Age-related changes in luteal dynamics: preliminary associations with antral follicular dynamics and hormone production during the human menstrual cycle

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Objective:The aim of the study was to test the hypothesis that the development of luteal phase dominant follicles (LPDFs) as women age is associated with abnormal luteal function.Methods:Luteal and antral follicle diameter were quantified in ovulatory women of midreproductive age (MRA; 18-35 y; n = 9) and advanced reproductive age (ARA; 45-55 y; n = 16) every 1 to 3 days during one complete interovulatory interval. Blood was drawn at each visit and assayed for progesterone, estradiol, inhibin A, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone. Luteal diameter and hormone profiles were compared within MRA and ARA women with versus without LPDFs.Results:Luteal growth and regression profiles were similar in MRA women with typical versus no LPDFs (13.9, 14.8 mm; P > 0.1); however, luteal phase estradiol and progesterone were greater in MRA women with typical (91.1 ng/L, 8.81 μg/L) versus no (48.8 ng/L, 7.32 μg/L) LPDFs, respectively (LPDF effect, P < 0.1). In the ARA group, mean luteal diameter was lowest in women with atypical LPDFs (12.3 mm), greatest in those with typical LPDFs (16.0 mm), and moderate in those with no LPDFs (13.6 mm), (P < 0.1). Reduced luteal growth in ARA women with atypical versus typical and/or no LPDFs occurred simultaneously to greater luteal phase estradiol (199 vs 69.0, 78.4 ng/L) lower progesterone (7.38 vs 10.7, 13.8 ug/L), and lower inhibin A (36.3, 35.6, 51.2) (P < 0.1).Conclusions:The development of LPDFs as women age was associated with reduced luteal growth, greater estradiol, lower progesterone, and lower inhibin A. These findings provide preliminary evidence that variations in antral folliculogenesis contribute to luteal insufficiency during the menopausal transition.

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