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International Journal of Reproductive Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 603167, 16 pages
Review Article

Metabolite Profiling in the Pursuit of Biomarkers for IVF Outcome: The Case for Metabolomics Studies

1School of Chemistry, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
2The Leeds Centre for Reproductive Medicine, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Seacroft Hospital, Leeds LS14 6UH, UK

Received 12 November 2012; Accepted 2 January 2013

Academic Editor: Anne Van Langendonckt

Copyright © 2013 C. McRae et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. This paper presents the literature on biomarkers of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) outcome, demonstrating the progression of these studies towards metabolite profiling, specifically metabolomics. The need for more, and improved, metabolomics studies in the field of assisted conception is discussed. Methods. Searches were performed on ISI Web of Knowledge SM for literature associated with biomarkers of oocyte and embryo quality, and biomarkers of IVF outcome in embryo culture medium, follicular fluid (FF), and blood plasma in female mammals. Results. Metabolomics in the field of female reproduction is still in its infancy. Metabolomics investigations of embryo culture medium for embryo selection have been the most common, but only within the last five years. Only in 2012 has the first metabolomics investigation of FF for biomarkers of oocyte quality been reported. The only metabolomics studies of human blood plasma in this context have been aimed at identifying women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Conclusions. Metabolomics is becoming more established in the field of assisted conception, but the studies performed so far have been preliminary and not all potential applications have yet been explored. With further improved metabolomics studies, the possibility of identifying a method for predicting IVF outcome may become a reality.