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Reprod. Med., Volume 1, Issue 2 (September 2020) – 7 articles

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Review
The Evolution of the Cryopreservation Techniques in Reproductive Medicine—Exploring the Character of the Vitrified State Intra- and Extracellularly to Better Understand Cell Survival after Cryopreservation
Reprod. Med. 2020, 1(2), 142-157; https://doi.org/10.3390/reprodmed1020011 - 17 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1241
Abstract
Nowadays, cryopreservation of gametes and embryos is a fundamental, integral, and indispensable part of infertility treatment or fertility preservation. Cryopreservation is not only needed for the policy of single embryo transfer and cryopreservation of surplus embryos, but for deferring embryo transfer in the [...] Read more.
Nowadays, cryopreservation of gametes and embryos is a fundamental, integral, and indispensable part of infertility treatment or fertility preservation. Cryopreservation is not only needed for the policy of single embryo transfer and cryopreservation of surplus embryos, but for deferring embryo transfer in the case of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, uterine pathologies, and suboptimal endometrium built-up or when preimplantation genetic testing is needed. Several current strategies in assisted reproduction technology (ART) would be inconceivable without highly efficient cryopreservation protocols. Nevertheless, cryopreservation hampered for a long time, especially in terms of low survival rates after freezing and thawing. Only the technical progress during the last decades, namely, in regard to the implementation and advancement of vitrification, leveraged its application, and thus, even allows the cryopreservation of human oocytes—a process that is far from being easy. This review aims to provide a deeper insight into the physical processes of cryopreservation and to explore the character of the vitrified state in the extra and intracellular milieu in order to demonstrate that the common denominator to all cryopreservation procedures is the establishment of an intracellular amorphous condition that hinders the likelihood of crystallization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Embryo Technologies Management)
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Article
The Quantified Woman: Exploring Perceptions on Health App Use among Austrian Females of Reproductive Age
Reprod. Med. 2020, 1(2), 132-141; https://doi.org/10.3390/reprodmed1020010 - 08 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1078
Abstract
Smartphones have become the most important commodity for today’s digitalized society. Besides direct interpersonal communication, their most used features are third-party applications (apps). Apps for monitoring health parameters (health apps) are extremely popular, and their users are part of the Quantified Self movement. [...] Read more.
Smartphones have become the most important commodity for today’s digitalized society. Besides direct interpersonal communication, their most used features are third-party applications (apps). Apps for monitoring health parameters (health apps) are extremely popular, and their users are part of the Quantified Self movement. Little knowledge is available on how health apps are perceived by a female target audience, the Quantified Woman. We conducted a study among Austrian females of reproductive age (n = 150) to analyze prevalence, perceived benefits, and readiness for health app use. In the cross-sectional online German survey, nearly all participants used these apps (98.0%), predominantly for monitoring physical activity and female health (both 31.3%). For the latter, participants used a large variety of different apps for monitoring contraception and menstruation. Perceived benefits and readiness of health app use were only of medium range. Our study assessed aspects of health app use in an understudied segment of the general population. From a Public Health perspective, the Quantified Woman could be empowered by health data collection by enabling her to take active control over how her health graphs develop. We suggest assuring data security and privacy for sensitive female health data collected by health apps. Full article
Article
Effect of High-Dose Intravenous Vitamin C on Postpartum Oxidative Stress in Severe Preeclampsia
Reprod. Med. 2020, 1(2), 122-131; https://doi.org/10.3390/reprodmed1020009 - 28 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1019
Abstract
Purpose: To determine whether high-dose intravenous vitamin C reduces oxidative stress in patients with severe preeclampsia in the first days postpartum. Methods: Biomarkers of oxidative stress were assessed as secondary outcomes of a single-center, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Thirty-four patients with singleton pregnancies complicated [...] Read more.
Purpose: To determine whether high-dose intravenous vitamin C reduces oxidative stress in patients with severe preeclampsia in the first days postpartum. Methods: Biomarkers of oxidative stress were assessed as secondary outcomes of a single-center, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Thirty-four patients with singleton pregnancies complicated by severe features of preeclampsia were randomized into two groups: intravenous vitamin C (1.5 g/6 h) (n = 17) or placebo (n = 17). Urinary concentrations of dityrosine, 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdg), 8-isoprostane, and N epsilon-(hexanoyl) lysine (HEL) were measured at days one and three after delivery and normalized for urinary creatinine in 22 of patients included (12 in vitamin C and 10 in placebo group). The Mann–Whitney U-test was used to compare values of oxidative stress biomarkers at days one and three after delivery in vitamin C vs. placebo groups (p ≤ 0.05 significant). Results: Dityrosine and 8-OHdg values did not differ significantly between the two study groups at day one after delivery (p = 0.23 and p = 0.77, respectively), but were significantly lower in the vitamin C group compared to the placebo group at day three after delivery (p = 0.04 and p = 0.03, respectively). Values of 8-isoprostane and HEL did not differ significantly between the two study groups at day one (p = 0.41 and p = 0.42, respectively), as well as at day three, after delivery (p = 0.25 and p = 0.24, respectively). Conclusion: High-dose intravenous vitamin C treatments in patients with severe preeclampsia reduced urinary levels of dityrosine and 8-OHdg (markers of protein and DNA oxidative damage, respectively) on day three after delivery. Vitamin C treatment had no significant effect on lipid peroxidation biomarkers, i.e., 8-isoprostane and HEL. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preeclampsia: Pathogenesis, Diagnosis and Treatment)
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Article
Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Sex Hormones among Male and Female American Adolescents
Reprod. Med. 2020, 1(2), 108-121; https://doi.org/10.3390/reprodmed1020008 - 03 Aug 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1301
Abstract
Although early sexual initiation and childbearing are major barriers against the upward social mobility of American adolescents, particularly those who belong to a low socioeconomic status (SES) and racial minorities such as Blacks, less is known on how SES and race correlate with [...] Read more.
Although early sexual initiation and childbearing are major barriers against the upward social mobility of American adolescents, particularly those who belong to a low socioeconomic status (SES) and racial minorities such as Blacks, less is known on how SES and race correlate with adolescents’ sex hormones. An understanding of the associations between race and SES with adolescents’ sex hormones may help better understand why racial, and SES gaps exist in sexual risk behaviors and teen pregnancies. To extend the existing knowledge on social patterning of adolescents’ sex hormones, in the current study, we studied social patterning of sex hormones in a national sample of male and female American adolescents, with a particular interest in the role of race and SES. For this cross-sectional study, data came from the baseline data (wave 1) of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, a national longitudinal prospective study of American adolescents. This analysis included 717 male and 576 female non-Hispanic White or Black adolescents ages 9–10. The dependent variables were sex hormones (testosterone for males and estradiol for females). Independent variables were age, race, family marital status, parental education, and financial difficulties. For data analysis, linear regression models were used. Age, race, parental education, and financial difficulties were associated with estradiol in female and testosterone levels in male adolescents. Associations were not identical for males and females, but the patterns were mainly similar. Low SES explained why race is associated with higher estradiol in female adolescents. Marital status of the family did not correlate with any of the sex hormones. Being Black and low SES were associated with a higher level of sex hormones in male and female adolescents. This information may help us understand the social patterning of sexual initiation and childbearing. Addressing racial and economic inequalities in early puberty, sexual initiation, and childbearing is an essential part of closing the racial and economic gaps in the US. Full article
Protocol
Examining the Impact of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus and Pandemic-Related Hardship on Adverse Pregnancy and Infant Outcomes: Design and Launch of the HOPE COVID-19 Study
Reprod. Med. 2020, 1(2), 91-107; https://doi.org/10.3390/reprodmed1020007 - 22 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2651
Abstract
The 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continues to spread and worsen in many parts of the world. As the pandemic grows, it is especially important to understand how the virus and the [...] Read more.
The 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continues to spread and worsen in many parts of the world. As the pandemic grows, it is especially important to understand how the virus and the pandemic are affecting pregnant women and infants. While early data suggested that being infected with the virus did not increase the risk of adverse pregnancy or infant outcomes, as more information has emerged, it has become clear that risks for some adverse pregnancy and infant outcomes are increased (e.g., preterm birth, cesarean section, respiratory distress, and hospitalization). The Healthy Outcomes of Pregnancy for Everyone in the time of novel coronavirus disease-19 (HOPE COVID-19) study is a multi-year, prospective investigation designed to better understand how the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 impact adverse pregnancy and infant outcomes. The study also examines how the pandemic exacerbates existing hardships such as social isolation, economic destabilization, job loss, housing instability, and/or family member sickness or death among minoritized and marginalized communities. Specifically, the study examines how pandemic-related hardships impact clinical outcomes and characterizes the experiences of Black, Latinx and low-income groups compared to those in other race/ethnicity and socioeconomic stratum. The study includes two nested cohorts. The survey only cohort will enroll 7500 women over a two-year period. The survey+testing cohort will enroll 2500 women over this same time period. Participants in both cohorts complete short surveys daily using a mobile phone application about COVID-19-related symptoms (e.g., fever and cough) and complete longer surveys once during each trimester and at 6–8 weeks and 6, 12 and 18 months after delivery that focus on the health and well-being of mothers and, after birth, of infants. Participants in the survey+testing cohort also have testing for SARS-CoV-2 and related antibodies during pregnancy and after birth as well as testing that looks at inflammation and for the presence of other infections like Influenza and Rhinovirus. Study results are expected to be reported on a rolling basis and will include quarterly reporting for participants and public health partners as well as more traditional scientific reporting. Full article
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Review
Decidual Vasculopathy and Spiral Artery Remodeling Revisited III: Hypoxia and Re-oxygenation Sequence with Vascular Regeneration
Reprod. Med. 2020, 1(2), 77-90; https://doi.org/10.3390/reprodmed1020006 - 11 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1650
Abstract
Aim: Spiral artery remodeling at early pregnancy is characterized by two distinct mechanisms with two morphologic features, namely, trophoblastic-dependent vascular invasion with “plugging”, and trophoblastic-independent mural muscular hypertrophy/hyperplasia, both of which lead to the blocking or narrowing of the arterial lumen with the [...] Read more.
Aim: Spiral artery remodeling at early pregnancy is characterized by two distinct mechanisms with two morphologic features, namely, trophoblastic-dependent vascular invasion with “plugging”, and trophoblastic-independent mural muscular hypertrophy/hyperplasia, both of which lead to the blocking or narrowing of the arterial lumen with the consequence of reduced maternal blood flow to the developing embryo. Methods: Review of historic literature in light of the new discovery of CD56 (NCAM) expression on endovascular trophoblasts at late gestation, in relation to placental lateral growth with vascular regeneration. Results: Reduced maternal blood flow to the embryo results in a hypoxic condition critical for trophectoderm differentiation and proliferation. Hypoxia is also important for the development of hemangioblasts of vasculogenesis, and hematopoiesis of the placental villi. Up to 13 weeks, both uteroplacental and fetoplacental circulations are established and hypoxic condition relieved for normal fetal/placenta development by ultrasonography. The persistence of trophoblastic plugging and/or mural muscular hypertrophy/hyperplasia leads to persistent reduced maternal blood flow to the placenta, resulting in persistent hypoxia and increased angiogenesis, with a constellation of pathologic features of maternal vascular malperfusion atlate gestation. Wilm’s tumor gene (WT1) expression appears to be central to steroid and peptide hormonal actions in early pregnancy, and vascular regeneration/restoration after pregnancy. Conclusions: Spiral artery remodeling at early pregnancy leads to hypoxia with vascular transformation, and the establishment of uteroplacental circulation results in relief of hypoxia. The hypoxia–re-oxygenation sequence may provide insights into the mechanism of normal fetal/placental development and associated pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preeclampsia: Pathogenesis, Diagnosis and Treatment)
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Article
A Dream Deferred: African American Women’s Diminished Socioeconomic Returns of Postponing Childbearing from Teenage to Adulthood
Reprod. Med. 2020, 1(2), 62-76; https://doi.org/10.3390/reprodmed1020005 - 01 Jul 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1472
Abstract
Background: Brookings Institution has identified postponing childbirth from teenage to adulthood as a major strategy that is needed for upward social mobility of women. However, according to the Minorities’ Diminished Returns (MDRs), the associations between aspirations, investments, behaviors, and socioeconomic position (SEP) may [...] Read more.
Background: Brookings Institution has identified postponing childbirth from teenage to adulthood as a major strategy that is needed for upward social mobility of women. However, according to the Minorities’ Diminished Returns (MDRs), the associations between aspirations, investments, behaviors, and socioeconomic position (SEP) may be diminished for marginalized groups such as African Americans. Objective: To extend the existing knowledge on the MDRs, the current study had two aims: First to compare White and African American women for the association between postponing childbearing to adulthood and SEP in a national sample of American women. Second, to test correlates of postponing childbearing to adulthood and SEP at birth with long term outcomes 15 years later when the child was 15 years old. Methods: For this longitudinal study, data came from the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study (FFCWS), a national longitudinal prospective study in the United States (US) that followed an ethnically diverse sample of women from childbirth for 15 years from 1998 to 2016. For the first aim, this study included 2679 women composed of 723 Whites and 1956 African Americans. For the second aim, among 1842 individuals who had available data 15 years later, we measured various economic, behavioral, and mental health outcomes when the child was 15 years old. For aim 1 we ran linear regression. Postponing childbearing to adulthood was the independent variable. The dependent variable, SEP (poverty) was treated as a continuous measure with higher score indicating more poverty. Confounders included marital status and delivery characteristics. For the aim 2, we ran Pearson correlation test (exploratory analysis) to test if baseline SEP correlates with future outcomes. Results: Postponing childbearing from adolescence to adulthood was associated with higher SEP in adulthood, net of all confounders including marital status and education. We found a significant interaction between postponing childbearing from adolescence to adulthood and race on SEP, suggesting that the economic reward of postponing childbearing may be weaker for African American women than for White women. Conclusions: Although postponing the age at childbirth is a recommended strategy for women who wish to maximize their chance of upward social mobility, this strategy may be associated with smaller economic returns for African American women than White women. The results can also be interpreted as MDRs in investments in terms of a postponing childbearing. In a fair society, the same investment should be similarly rewarded across diverse racial groups. In the reality, however, the US society differently rewards White and African American women who postpone childbearing. Research should explore the roles of social stratification, blocked opportunities, and concentrated poverty in explaining the unequal return of such an investment for African American and White women. Full article
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