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17 December 2021 Obesity and oocyte quality: significant implications for ART and emerging mechanistic insights
Macarena B. Gonzalez, Rebecca L. Robker, Ryan D. Rose
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The prevalence of obesity in adults worldwide, and specifically in women of reproductive age, is concerning given the risks to fertility posed by the increased risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and other noncommunicable diseases. Obesity has a multi-systemic impact in female physiology that is characterized by the presence of oxidative stress, lipotoxicity, and the activation of pro-inflammatory pathways, inducing tissue-specific insulin resistance and ultimately conducive to abnormal ovarian function. A higher body mass is linked to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, dysregulated menstrual cycles, anovulation, and longer time to pregnancy, even in ovulatory women. In the context of assisted reproductive technology (ART), compared to women of normal body mass index, obese women have worse outcomes in every step of their journey, resulting in reduced success measured as live birth rate. Even after pregnancy is achieved, obese women have a higher chance of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, pregnancy complications, birth defects, and most worryingly, a higher risk of stillbirth and neonatal death. The potential for compounding effects of ART on pregnancy complications and infant morbidities in obese women has not been studied. There is still much debate in the field on whether these poorer outcomes are mainly driven by defects in oocyte quality, abnormal embryo development, or an unaccommodating uterine environment, however the clinical evidence to date suggests a combination of all three are responsible. Animal models of maternal obesity shed light on the mechanisms underlying the effects of obesity on the peri-conception environment, with recent findings pointing to lipotoxicity in the ovarian environment as a key driver of defects in oocytes that have not only reduced developmental competence but long-lasting effects in offspring health.

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Society for the Study of Reproduction. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
Macarena B. Gonzalez, Rebecca L. Robker, and Ryan D. Rose "Obesity and oocyte quality: significant implications for ART and emerging mechanistic insights," Biology of Reproduction 106(2), 338-350, (17 December 2021).
Received: 30 September 2021; Accepted: 7 December 2021; Published: 17 December 2021
oocyte quality
reproductive success
women's health
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