Assisted Reproduction and Its Neuroendocrine Impact on the Offspring

  • Kanaka-Gantenbein C
  • Sakka S
  • Chrousos G
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Abstract

Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) have been widely used during the last three decades and progressively more children are born with the help of such methods. There is now evidence that ARTs may be associated with slight epigenetic modifications in the expression of several genes that could have a long-term impact on the health of the offspring. Also, a clear association between such techniques and genomic imprinting abnormalities has been reported. The neuroendocrine impact of ART on the offspring includes slight elevations of systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP), as well as increased circulating triglyceride concentrations, in children born after ART, especially in those with rapid catch-up growth in weight during early childhood. However, the postnatal growth of most children after ART is normal and no increased incidence of the full metabolic syndrome has been observed in these children and adolescents. Moreover, the pace and timing of puberty of such children is normal and no increased incidence of premature adrenarche could be discerned in ART children in the absence of restricted fetal growth. Finally, a slight modification of the set point of thyroid stimulating hormone sensitivity was observed in ART children, without an apparent impact on thyroid hormone secretion. This has been attributed to epigenetic changes. Questions remain to be answered regarding the future reproductive capacity of children born after ART, as well as their cardiovascular risk in later adult life. Long-term prospective studies should be performed to provide robust evidence.

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Authors

  • Christina Kanaka-Gantenbein

  • Sophia Sakka

  • George P. Chrousos

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