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Impact of GnRH analogues on oocyte/embryo quality and embryo development in in vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection cycles: a case control study

Ákos Murber*, Péter Fancsovits, Nóra Ledó, Zsuzsa Tóthné Gilán, János Rigó and János Urbancsek

Author Affiliations

1st Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Semmelweis University Faculty of Medicine, Budapest, Hungary

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Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2009, 7:103  doi:10.1186/1477-7827-7-103

Published: 25 September 2009



Despite the clinical outcomes of ovarian stimulation with either GnRH-agonist or GnRH-antagonist analogues for in vitro fertilization (IVF) being well analysed, the effect of analogues on oocyte/embryo quality and embryo development is still not known in detail. The aim of this case-control study was to compare the efficacy of a multiple-dose GnRH antagonist protocol with that of the GnRH agonist long protocol with a view to oocyte and embryo quality, embryo development and IVF treatment outcome.


Between October 2001 and December 2008, 100 patients were stimulated with human menopausal gonadotrophin (HMG) and GnRH antagonist in their first treatment cycle for IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). One hundred combined GnRH agonist + HMG (long protocol) cycles were matched to the GnRH antagonist + HMG cycles by age, BMI, baseline FSH levels and by cause of infertility. We determined the number and quality of retrieved oocytes, the rate of early-cleavage embryos, the morphology and development of embryos, as well as clinical pregnancy rates. Statistical analysis was performed using Wilcoxon's matched pairs rank sum test and McNemar's chi-square test. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


The rate of cytoplasmic abnormalities in retrieved oocytes was significantly higher with the use of GnRH antagonist than in GnRH agonist cycles (62.1% vs. 49.9%; P < 0.01). We observed lower rate of zygotes showing normal pronuclear morphology (49.3% vs. 58.0%; P < 0.01), and higher cell-number of preembryos on day 2 after fertilization (4.28 vs. 4.03; P < 0.01) with the use of GnRH antagonist analogues. The rate of mature oocytes, rate of presence of multinucleated blastomers, amount of fragmentation in embryos and rate of early-cleaved embryos was similar in the two groups. Clinical pregnancy rate per embryo transfer was lower in the antagonist group than in the agonist group (30.8% vs. 40.4%) although this difference did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.17).


Antagonist seemed to influence favourably some parameters of early embryo development dynamics, while other morphological parameters seemed not to be altered according to GnRH analogue used for ovarian stimulation in IVF cycles.