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Follicular fluid (FF) contains various cytokines that are involved with folliculogenesis, some of which have been shown to be associated with oocyte quality and the implantation potential of a resulting embryo. Several IL-1 family members have previously been identified in FF. This study investigates a newly identified member of the family, IL-33, and its receptor ST2, comparing values to those of FF Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor (G-CSF)--a known predictor of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) success. FF was collected from patients undergoing in vitro fertilisation/intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (IVF/ICSI) at oocyte retrieval to analyse IL-33 and sST2 expression in human follicles. sST2, but not IL-33, is highly increased in the FF compared to plasma levels (up to 7.9-fold), with higher levels in larger follicles (p<0.05). Furthermore, we identify that human luteinised granulosa cells are one possible source of the FF sST2, as these cells express and secrete sST2 when cultured ex vivo. FF associated with oocytes which when fertilised develop into good quality embryos have higher sST2 levels than those which are graded average (p<0.01). These embryos were transferred to the patient and levels of FF sST2 compared between successful and unsuccessful ICSI cycles. However unlike G-CSF, sST2 levels cannot be used to predict cycle outcome.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Adult, Cells, Cultured, Embryo, Mammalian, Female, Follicular Fluid, Gene Expression, Granulosa Cells, Humans, Infertility, Female, Infertility, Male, Interleukin-1 Receptor-Like 1 Protein, Interleukin-33, Interleukins, Luteinization, Male, Oocytes, Pregnancy, Receptors, Cell Surface, Reproductive Techniques, Assisted, Solubility, Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic, Treatment Outcome