Gene expression profile of human endometrial receptivity: comparison between natural and stimulated cycles for the same patients

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

The adjunction of exogenous hormones for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) may alter endometrial receptiveness. In order to identify the genes misregulated under COS, we compared the endometrium gene expression profiles, from the same patients, in a natural cycle and in a subsequent COS cycle.

METHODS

For the same normal-responder patients (n=21), endometrial biopsies (n=84) were collected during the pre-receptive (LH + 2) and receptive stages (LH + 7) of a natural cycle and, subsequently, on oocyte retrieval day (hCG + 2) and on transfer day (hCG + 5) of a stimulated cycle. Samples were analyzed using DNA microarrays. Gene expression profiles and biological pathways involved in endometrial receptivity were analyzed.

RESULTS

Although endometrium transition profiles from pre-receptive to receptive phases are similar between patients, COS regimens alter endometrial receptivity in comparison with natural cycle. Under COS conditions, two endometrial profiles were identified and were associated either with a moderately altered receptivity profile for the majority of the patients or a strongly altered profile for a sub-category of patients. The receptive endometrium transcription profile under COS was defective for biological functions such as TGFβ signaling, leukocyte transendothelial migration and the cell cycle.

CONCLUSIONS

Gonadotrophin treatments in COS cycles led to disruptions of the transcriptional activation of genes involved in normal endometrial receptivity. We propose that when the receptiveness of the endometrium is seriously compromised by the COS protocol, fresh embryo replacement should be cancelled, the embryo frozen and thawed embryo replacement should be performed under natural cycles.

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