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Open access

Kevin KW Kuan, Aileen R Neilson, Andrew W Horne, and Lucy H R Whitaker

Patients with chronic pelvic pain (CPP) may experience pain exacerbations requiring hospital admissions. Due to the effects of backlogged elective surgeries and outpatient gynaecology appointments resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we hypothesised that there would be an increased number of women admitted with CPP flares. We conducted a retrospective review of all acute gynaecology admissions at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh from July to December 2018 (pre-COVID) and 2021 (post-COVID lockdown). We collected information on proportion of emergency admissions due to CPP, inpatient investigations, and subsequent management. Average total indicative hospital inpatient costs for women with CPP were calculated using NHS National Cost Collection data guidance. There was no significant difference in the number of emergency admissions due to pelvic pain before (153/507) and after (160/461) the COVID-19 pandemic. 33% and 31% had a background history of CPP, respectively. Across both timepoints, investigations in women with CPP had low diagnostic yield: <25% had abnormal imaging findings and 0% had positive vaginal swab cultures. Women with CPP received significantly more inpatient morphine, pain team reviews, and were more likely to be discharged with strong opioids. Total yearly inpatient costs were £170,104 and £179,156, in 2018 and 2021 respectively. Overall, emergency admission rates for managing CPP flares was similar before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Inpatient resource use for women with CPP remains high, investigations have low diagnostic yield and frequent instigation of opiates on discharge may risk dependence. Improved community care of CPP is needed to reduce emergency gynaecology resource utilisation.

Open access

Shah T Bashir, Angela R Baerwald, Melba O Gastal, Roger A Pierson, and Eduardo L Gastal

Growth patterns and associated endocrine profiles were compared between dominant anovulatory (ADF) and ovulatory follicles (OvF) developing from different waves within and between menstrual cycles in women. Follicular mapping profiles of 49 healthy women of reproductive age and blood samples were obtained every 1–3 days. Sixty-three dominant follicles were classified into wave 1 (W1ADF; n = 8) and wave 2 (W2ADF; n = 6) anovulatory follicles and wave 2 (W2OvF; n = 33) and wave 3 (W3OvF; n = 16) ovulatory follicles. Comparisons were made between W1ADF and W2ADF, W2ADF and W2OvF, and W2OvF and W3OvF. The waves were numbered 1, 2, or 3 based on when the waves emerged relative to the preceding ovulation. W1ADF emerged closer to the preceding ovulation, and W2ADF emerged in the late luteal or early follicular phase. The interval from emergence to maximum diameter was shorter for W2ADF than W1ADF and for W3OvF than W2OvF. Selection of W3OvF occurred at a smaller diameter compared to W2OvF. W1ADF regressed at a faster rate than W2ADF. Also, W1ADF were associated with lower mean FSH and higher mean estradiol than W2ADF. In contrast, W3OvF were associated with higher FSH and LH compared to W2OvF. However, W2OvF were associated with higher progesterone than W3OvF. This study contributes to the understanding of the physiologic mechanisms underlying selection of the dominant follicle, ovulation, and pathophysiology of anovulation in women, as well as optimization of ovarian stimulation protocols for assisted reproduction.

Open access

Cecilia H. M. Ng, Andrew G. Michelmore, Gita D. Mishra, Grant W. Montgomery, Peter Rogers, and Jason Abbott

Endometriosis is a common yet under-recognised chronic inflammatory disease, affecting 176 million women, trans and gender diverse people globally. The National Endometriosis Clinical and Scientific Trials (NECST) Registry is a new clinical registry, collecting and tracking diagnostic and treatment data, and patient-reported outcomes on people with endometriosis. The registry is a research priority action item from the 2018 National Action Plan for Endometriosis and aims to provide, large-scale, national and longitudinal population-based data on endometriosis. Working groups (consisting of patients with endometriosis, clinicians and researchers) developing the NECST Registry data dictionary and data collection platform started in 2019. Our data dictionary was developed based on existing and validated questionnaires, tools, meta-data and data cubes – World Endometriosis Research Foundation (WERF) Endometriosis Phenome and Biobanking Harmonisation Project (EPHect), endometriosis CORE outcomes set, patient-reported outcome measures, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases-10th Revision Australian Modification diagnosis codes, and Australian Government datasets: Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (for sociodemographic data), Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS; for medical procedures) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS; for medical therapies). The resulting NECST Registry is an online, secure cloud-based database; prospectively collecting minimum core clinical and health data across eight patient and clinician modules and longitudinal data tracking disease life course. The NECST Registry has ethics approval (HREC/62508/MonH-2020) and is registered on the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12622000987763).

Open access

Lisa Windhofer, Auke Boersma, Maik Dahlhoff, Thomas Rülicke, and Kerstin E. Auer

In laboratory mice sperm quality is usually assessed in spermatozoa collected from the cauda epididymidis of freshly sacrificed males. Percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA) is a non-terminal alternative that would allow repeated sperm collection for sperm quality assessment in living males. To test whether PESA is a suitable method to assess sperm quality, we compared sperm traits between samples collected by PESA versus the commonly applied terminal cauda epididymis dissection. The collected sperm samples were analyzed using computer assisted sperm analysis and various parameters, including sperm motility, swimming velocity and morphology were determined. We were able to retrieve motile sperm from all mice using PESA and the terminal cauda epididymis dissection. Based on computer assisted sperm analysis, however, sperm motility and swimming velocity were significantly lower after PESA compared to samples obtained by cauda epididymis dissection. In addition, we found significantly more morphological deformities in PESA samples, probably induced as a side effect of the sampling technique. Although sperm samples collected by PESA are successfully used for in vitro fertilizations, we cannot recommend PESA as a suitable method to assess sperm quality in mice, since the procedure seems to impair various sperm traits.

Open access

Rageia Elfageih, Ahmed Reda, Kristin Ros Kjartansdottir, Valentina Pampanini, Olle Soder, and Jan-Bernd Stukenborg

Objective: Testicular samples obtained for fertility preservation often need to be transported between clinics. This study aimed to mimic this short-term hypothermic storage (4–8 °C) and explore the impact of these conditions and the transport medium composition on prepubertal rat testicular tissue samples. Methods: Testicular tissue samples obtained from seven days post-partum rats were transferred to six compositionally different basal culture media and a balanced salt solution, which had been kept at 4–8 °C prior to transfer. The samples were preserved for either 12 or 24 hours in these hypothermic conditions. The potential effects of the short-term storage were evaluated by assessing the morphology, measuring the testosterone levels by radioimmunoassay and analysing 96 genes with TaqMan Low-Density Arrays. Summarizing results: Levels of gene expression related to energy, apoptosis and angiogenesis pathways were altered after hypothermic storage for 12 and especially 24 hours. We observed only minor differences in gene expression profiles for germ and testicular somatic cells, and no differences in tissue morphology and testosterone production levels. Conclusions: Short-term hypothermic storage of testicular tissue with a maximum duration of 24 hours does not affect the overall expression profile of testicular cell-specific genes; however, in a minor way, it affects the expression of specific cellular genes.

Open access

Scott C Mackenzie, Catherine A Moakes, W. Colin Duncan, Stephen Tong, and Andrew W Horne


Open access

Soo Young Baik, Alisha Maini, Haidee Tinning, Dapeng Wang, Daman Adlam, Peter T Ruane, and Niamh Forde

Obesity is a rapidly growing public health issue among women of reproductive age associated with decreased reproductive function including implantation failure. This can result from a myriad of factors including impaired gametes and endometrial dysfunction. The mechanisms of how obesity-related hyperinsulinaemia disrupts endometrial function are poorly understood. We investigated potential mechanisms by which insulin alters endometrial transcript expression. Ishikawa cells were seeded into a microfluidics device attached to a syringe pump to deliver a constant flow rate of 1uL/min of the following: 1) control 2) vehicle control (acetic acid) or, 3) Insulin (10 ng/ml) for 24 hours (n=3 biological replicates). Insulin-induced transcriptomic response of endometrial epithelial cells was determined via RNA sequencing, and DAVID and Webgestalt to identify Gene Ontology (GO) terms and signalling pathways. A Total of 29 transcripts showed differential expression levels across two comparison groups (control v vehicle control; vehicle control v insulin). Nine transcripts were differentially expressed in vehicle control v insulin comparison (p<0.05). Functional annotation analysis of transcripts altered by insulin (n=9) identified three significantly enriched GO terms: SRP-dependent cotranslational protein targeting to membrane, poly(A) binding, and RNA binding (p<0.05). Over-representation analysis found three significantly enriched signalling pathways relating to insulin-induced transcriptomic response: protein export, glutathione metabolism, and ribosome pathways (p<0.05). Transfection of siRNA for RASPN successfully knocked down expression (p<0.05) but this did not have any effect on cellular morphology. Insulin-induced dysregulation of biological functions and pathways highlight potential mechanisms by which high insulin concentrations within maternal circulation may perturb endometrial receptivity.

Open access

Alena J Hungerford, Hassan W Bakos, and Robert J Aitken

Graphical abstract


Sperm cryopreservation is a valuable tool for the long-term preservation of male fertility. Thus, determining the optimal technique for isolating spermatozoa post-thaw is vital to ensure recovery of the highest quality spermatozoa with minimal iatrogenic damage. This not only enhances the chances of successful conception but also reduces the risk of genetic damage in the embryo. To address this issue, human semen samples were cryopreserved using a slow freezing protocol and Quinn's Advantage™ Sperm Freeze medium. The samples were subsequently thawed and subjected to three types of sperm isolation procedures: direct swim-up, density gradient centrifugation, and electrophoretic separation using the Felix™ device. Cryopreservation led to the anticipated loss of sperm motility and vitality in association with increases in lipid peroxidation and DNA damage. Following sperm selection, all three isolation techniques resulted in an increase in sperm motility which was particularly evident with the swim-up and Felix™ procedures. The latter also significantly improved sperm vitality. There were no differences between sperm separation techniques with respect to morphology, and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species generation remained essentially unchanged when cell vitality was taken into account. By contrast, major differences were observed in DNA integrity and lipid aldehyde formation, where Felix™ isolated cells exhibiting significantly less DNA damage than the other isolation procedures as well as lower levels of 4-hydroxynonenal formation. Electrophoretic sperm isolation, therefore, offers significant advantages over alternative separation strategies, in terms of the quality of the gametes isolated and the time taken to achieve the isolation.

Lay Summary

Long-term storage of sperm is vital to assisted reproductive technology because it permits the preservation of fertility that might be compromised as a result of factors such as chemotherapy or vasectomy. This goal can be achieved via cryopreservation – the freezing of cells to −196°C. When the sperm are subsequently required for conception, they must be carefully separated from the cryopreservation medium in a manner that maximizes the chances of successful conception and minimizes the risk of genetic defects in the offspring. In this paper, three isolation techniques were compared for their ability to separate ideal sperm from semen and media following cryopreservation. It was found that cryopreservation led to lower levels of motility and vitality and created higher levels of DNA and cell membrane damage. Of the three techniques compared, only cells separated on the basis of their size and electric charge (electrophoretic isolation) exhibited significantly lower levels of DNA fragmentation.

Open access

Kinjal Gajjar, Alpesh Patel, B I Patel, Shiva Chettiar, and Devendrasinh Jhala

To evaluate the proportion of chromosomal abnormalities in recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) assisted by array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) bright out with higher detection rate, more accuracy, and less sample failure as compared with conventional cytogenetic analysis. In this study, product of conception samples with abnormal ultrasonogram (USG) findings of the fetus and clinical history of RPL were first processed for karyotyping and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis. Normal results given by karyotype and FISH samples with major anomalies detected by ultrasound with RPL were divided into six groups and aCGH was performed to detect the gain or loss and copy number variations (CNVs) of a particular gene present in chromosomal segments. Among a total of 300 products of conception samples, 100 abnormal samples were identified either by karyotype (n = 70) or by FISH (n = 30). From the remaining 200 samples, 5 showed the presence of maternal cell contamination excluded. aCGH analysis revealed (n = 195) that 74 (38%) samples with CNVs and 2 samples with variants of unknown clinical significance were clinically associated with the clinical findings and 121(62%) samples showed no change in CNVs. The most frequent CNVs were loss of chromosome regions at 2q33.1, 7q11.21, 15q11.1, 16p11.2, Xp22.33, and Yp11.32. CNVs at arr[GRCh37]7p22.3,p21.2(830852-15124702)×1,7q34q36.3(141464180-158909738)×3, 14.2Mbp deletion of 7p22.3p21.2 (SUN1 gene) and 17.4Mbp duplication of 7q34q36.3 (KCNH2, CNTNAP2, and SHH genes) were found in one sample, and CNVs at arr[GRCh37]8p22.2q22.3(86326349-105509986)×1 and 2.48Mbp deletion of 8p22.2q22.3 (GRHL1 gene) were found in another sample.

Lay summary

Recurrent pregnancy loss is considered as two or more consecutive pregnancy losses. Fetal birth defects are thoroughly associated with chromosomal (thread-like structures containing packaged genetic material) abnormalities, which are the underlying causes of pregnancy loss. The evaluation of chromosomal abnormalities is required to diagnose pregnancy loss to improve the prognosis of future pregnancies. The largest proportion of chromosomal abnormalities was observed in the fetal tissue that remains in the uterus after pregnancy. We analyzed 300 retained fetal tissue samples and implicated different methods to recognize the structural abnormalities in the chromosomes. Moreover, simultaneously detect the expression of thousands of genes from fetal tissue. A clinical indication and their association of chromosomal abnormalities were obtained in 38% of cases with assorted fetal ultrasound defects in multiple pregnancy losses and two samples with a variety of unknown clinical indications. It revealed that chromosomal alteration in fetal birth defects is responsible for multiple pregnancy losses.

Open access

Froylan Sosa, Kyungjun Uh, Jéssica N Drum, Katy S Stoecklein, Kimberly M Davenport, M Sofia Ortega, Kiho Lee, and Peter J Hansen

The hypothesis that colony-stimulating factor 2 (CSF2) plays a role in the preimplantation development of the bovine embryo was tested by evaluating consequences of inactivation of CSF2RA (the functional receptor in the embryo) for the development of embryos in utero. CRISPR/Cas9 was used to alter sequences on exon 5 and intron 5 of CSF2RA, Control embryos were injected with Cas9 mRNA only. Embryos > 16 cells at day 5 after insemination were transferred to synchronized recipient females in groups of 7–24. Embryos were flushed from the uterus 2 days later. The proportion of recovered embryos that developed to the blastocyst stage was lower for knockout embryos (39%) than for control embryos (63%). RNA sequencing of individual morulae and blastocysts indicated a total of 27 (morula) or 15 (blastocyst) differentially expressed genes (false discovery rate <0.05). Gene set enrichment analysis indicated that the knockout affected genes playing roles in several functions including cell signaling and glycosylation. It was concluded that signaling through CSF2RA is not obligatory for the development of the bovine preimplantation embryo to the blastocyst stage but that CSF2 signaling does enhance the likelihood that the embryo can become a blastocyst and result in specific changes in gene expression.

Lay summary

Development of the early embryo depends upon regulation by chemical signals produced by the uterus. One of these signals is a protein called colony-stimulating factor 2 (CSF2) that can affect the development of embryos in culture. To test whether CSF2 also regulates the embryo in the uterus, where development ordinarily occurs, we evaluated development in the uterus of embryos in which the receptor for CSF2 was disrupted. Embryos without the receptor gene were less likely to develop to the typical stage of development than control embryos and experienced some differences in the expression of specific genes. We conclude that CSF2 regulates embryonic development in the uterus.