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To analyse for the first time the response of the corticotroph-type and the melanotroph-type pituitary proopiomelanocortin (POMC) system with regard to in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment using self-developed highly specific non-cross-reacting radioimmunoassay. Setting: University hospital. patients: A total of 28 patients undergoing IVF oocyte retrieval. Cross sectional exploratory study, one factorial design with repeated measurements on one factor, non-parametric tests. Blood was collected before anaesthesia (t(A)) (n=28) and immediately after oocyte retrieval (t(B)) (n=28). Main outcome measure(s): beta-endorphin immunoreactive material (IRM), acetyl-N-beta-endorphin IRM, beta-lipotropin IRM, ACTH, cortisol, estradiol, progesterone, prolactin, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone. For determination of authentic beta-endorphin [beta-endorphin (1-31)] a highly specific two-site fluid phase immunoprecipitation radioimmunoassay was developed, which did not cross-react with any beta-endorphin derivative or any other opioid peptide tested. No response of acetyl-N-beta-endorphin IRM and of authentic beta-endorphin (1-31) was observed to oocyte retrieval in contrast to a significant increase of corticotroph-type proopiomelanocortin derivatives. A significant rise in prolactin plasma concentration indicates a pronounced lactotroph response to oocyte retrieval stress. No significant correlation between POMC derivates and prolactin and between POMC derivatives and gonadotropins or sexual steroids except for ACTH and progesterone and for beta-endorphin IRM and estradiol was observed. IVF treatment stress led to significant corticotroph-type POMC and lactotroph responses, but not to responses of authentic beta-endorphin or melanotroph-type POMC in women undergoing oocyte retrieval.


Heinz Harbach, Kerstin Antrecht, Rolf-Hasso Boedeker, Florian Brenck, Holger Gips, Gunter Hempelmann, Joerg Muehling, Ingeborg Welters, Marek Zygmunt. Response of proopiomelanocortin and gonado- or lactotroph systems to in-vitro fertilisation procedures stress. European journal of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. 2008 Dec;141(2):137-42

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PMID: 18789571

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