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Vitamin D as a follicular marker of human oocyte quality and a serum marker of in vitro fertilization outcome.



This study investigated the relationship between the vitamin D [25(OH)D] level in individual follicles and oocyte developmental competence.


A prospective cohort study in a private infertility center. Infertile women (N = 198) scheduled for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and a single embryo transfer (SET) provided serum samples and 322 follicular fluid (FF) specimens, each from a single follicle on the day of oocyte retrieval.


FFs corresponding to successfully fertilized oocytes (following ICSI) contained significantly lower 25(OH)D level compared with those that were not fertilized (28.4 vs. 34.0 ng/ml, P = 0.001). Top quality embryos on the third day after fertilization, when compared to other available embryos, developed from oocytes collected from follicles containing significantly lower 25(OH)D levels (24.56 vs. 29.59 ng/ml, P = 0.007). Positive hCG, clinical pregnancy, and live birth rates were achieved from embryos derived from oocytes that grew in FF with significantly lower 25(OH)D levels than in follicles not associated with subsequent pregnancy. The concentration of 25(OH)D in FF in women with negative hCG was 32.23 ± 20.21 ng/ml, positive hCG 23.62 ± 6.09 ng/ml, clinical pregnancy 23.13 ± 6.09 ng/ml, and live birth 23.45 ± 6.11 ng/ml (P < 0.001). Women with serum 25(OH)D < 20 ng/ml had not only a higher fertilization rate (71 vs. 61.6%, P = 0.026) and a higher clinical pregnancy rate (48.2 vs. 25%, P = 0.001), but also higher miscarriage rate (14.5 vs. 3.8%, P = 0.013) compared with those with levels ≥ 20 ng/ml.


This study reveals that the level of 25(OH)D in FF correlates negatively with the oocytes' ability to undergo fertilization and subsequent preimplantation embryo development. Oocytes matured in FF with low 25(OH)D concentration are more likely to produce top quality embryos and are associated with higher pregnancy and delivery rates. On the other hand, low serum vitamin D concentration is associated with higher miscarriage rates.

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