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Simple hair test ‘could tell women how many eggs they have left’

A simple test of a woman’s hair “ could tell women how many eggs they have left ” by assessing the levels of an important fertility hormone, scientists say.

American and Spanish researchers found ‘biologically relevant’ levels of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) – an indicator of ovarian reserves – in women’s hair samples.

AMH is a hormone produced by the cells in a woman’s ovaries and gives an indication of her egg reserves and subsequent fertility.

The hormone is absorbed into the hair matrix before it reaches the skin surface.

Levels of AMH from the hair correlated with levels from blood samples, which is currently the most common method of measuring the hormone.

But taking AHM measurements of the hair would be less invasive than a blood sample and a “ more appropriate representation of hormone levels, ” scientists said.

American and Spanish researchers found ‘biologically relevant’ levels of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) – an indicator of ovarian reserves – in women’s hair samples.

AMH LEVELS HELP ASSESS FERTILITY

Anti-Müllerian hormone is a protein hormone that is produced by cells in the ovary.

AMH correlates with ovarian reserves, and as the ovarian reserve decreases with age, AMH levels also decrease.

An AMH test is often used to check whether a woman can produce eggs that can be fertilized during pregnancy.

A woman’s ovaries can make thousands of eggs during her childbearing years.

The number decreases as a woman ages.

AMH levels show how many potential eggs have left a woman – known as the ovarian reserve.

If a woman’s ovarian reserve is high, she may have a better chance of getting pregnant.

She may also be able to wait months or years before trying to get pregnant.

If the ovarian reserve is low, it could mean that a woman will have trouble conceiving and not have to wait long before trying to have a baby.

Testing can be done without visiting a clinic, for example, by mailing a hair sample, making this type of test cheaper and available to a wider range of women.

The role of AMH as a measure of ovarian reserve in predicting the response to ovarian stimulation for IVF now seems “ beyond dispute, ” researchers add.

“Hair is a medium that can accumulate biomarkers for several weeks, while serum is an acute matrix that represents only current levels,” said Sarthak Sawarkar of the American health technology company MedAnswers, who presented his research online at the 36th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

While hormone levels in blood can fluctuate rapidly in response to stimuli, hormone levels measured in her would represent several weeks of accumulation.

“A measurement with a hair sample rather reflects the average hormone levels in an individual.”

AMH has become an important marker in assessing how women can respond to fertility treatment.

The hormone is produced by small cells that surround each egg as it develops in the ovary.

Studies have not correlated AMH levels with a reliable chance of a live birth, nor with predicting menopause.

However, AMH measurement has become an intrinsic marker in assessing how a patient will respond to ovarian stimulation for IVF – as a normal responder, poor responder (with few eggs) or overresponder (with lots of eggs and a risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome).

Currently, AMH is currently measured in serum taken from a blood sample taken intravenously, but measurements taken in this manner represent only a snapshot and are relatively invasive to complete.

To learn more about the potential of AMH measurements of the hair, researchers collected hair and blood samples from 152 women who had hair during hospital visits.

Although hormone levels in blood can fluctuate rapidly in response to stimuli, hormone levels measured in her could represent a multi-week accumulation and therefore provide a more accurate AMH reading

Although hormone levels in blood can fluctuate rapidly in response to stimuli, hormone levels measured in her could represent a multi-week accumulation and therefore provide a more accurate AMH reading

Although hormone levels in blood can fluctuate rapidly in response to stimuli, hormone levels measured in her could represent a multi-week accumulation and therefore provide a more accurate AMH reading

AMH was also measured in blood samples from the same subjects, as well as an ultrasound of the development of follicles in the ovary – a method known as antral follicle count (AFC).

Biologically relevant AMH levels were successfully detected in the hair samples, which decreased with the age of the patient, as expected by the team.

AMH levels of hair were strongly correlated with levels as determined by both serum in the blood and AFC.

The hair test was also able to detect a wide range of AMH levels in individuals from a similar age cohort, suggesting greater accuracy than a single blood sample.

Hormones accumulate in hair shafts over a period of months, while serum hormone levels can change over hours, they found, meaning the hair test can be a more reliable measure.

Hormone levels are also assessed non-invasively, which reduces test stress and provides a cheaper test.

“This study is very interesting because it suggests that AMH can be measured reliably by hair samples, as opposed to the standard approach of a blood test,” said Tim Child, medical director of Oxford Fertility. the times.

AMH from human hair is less invasive and a 'more appropriate representation of hormone levels' than from an 'acute' source such as blood serum

AMH from human hair is less invasive and a 'more appropriate representation of hormone levels' than from an 'acute' source such as blood serum

AMH from human hair is less invasive and a ‘more appropriate representation of hormone levels’ than from an ‘acute’ source such as blood serum

The AMH level in hair is more “average” over a period of time than the more immediate level in a blood sample.

The question is whether the AMH levels of hair correlate with the ovarian response and thus the number of eggs collected during an IVF cycle – this is not being investigated in this study.

If the correlation is poor, hair samples make no sense.

“If the correlation is as good, or perhaps even better than with blood AMH, then this technique promises to further simplify the fertility treatment process for women and will be an exciting development.”

The results were presented by PhD candidate Sarthak Sawarkar, who works in the laboratory of Professor Manel Lopez-Bejar in Barcelona, ​​with employees of MedAnswers.

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