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1.
Hum Reprod Update ; 2022 Nov 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2250460

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In 2020, SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the access to and provision of ART treatments. Gradually, knowledge of the virus and its transmission has become available, allowing ART activities to resume. Still, questions on the impact of the virus on human gametes and fertility remain. OBJECTIVE AND RATIONALE: This article summarizes published data, aiming to clarify the impact of SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 disease on human fertility and assisted reproduction, as well as the impact of vaccination, and from this, provide answers to questions that are relevant for people contemplating pregnancy and for health care professionals. SEARCH METHODS: PUBMED/MEDLINE and the WHO COVID-19 database were searched from inception to 5 October 2022 with search terms focusing on 'SARS-CoV-2' and gametes, embryos, reproductive function, fertility and ART. Non-English studies and papers published prior to 2020 were excluded, as well as reviews and non-peer reviewed publications. Full papers were assessed for relevance and quality, where feasible. OUTCOMES: From the 148 papers included, the following observations were made. The SARS-CoV-2-binding proteins, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and type II transmembrane serine protease (TMPRSS2), are expressed in the testis, but co-expression remains to be proven. There is some evidence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the ejaculate of COVID-19 patients with severe disease, but not in those with mild/moderate disease. SARS-CoV-2 infection can impair spermatogenesis, but this seems to resolve after one spermatogenic cycle. Testosterone levels seem to be lower during and after COVID-19, but long-term data are lacking; disease severity may be associated with testosterone levels. COVID-19 cannot be considered a sexually transmitted disease. There is no co-expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in the myometrium, uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes. Oocytes seem to have the receptors and protease machinery to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection; however, viral RNA in oocytes has not been detected so far. Women contemplating pregnancy following COVID-19 may benefit from screening for thyroid dysfunction. There is a possible (transient) impact of COVID-19 on menstrual patterns. Embryos, and particularly late blastocysts, seem to have the machinery to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Most studies have not reported a significant impact of COVID-19 on ovarian reserve, ovarian function or follicular fluid parameters. Previous asymptomatic or mild SARS-CoV-2 infection in females does not seem to negatively affect laboratory and clinical outcomes of ART. There are no data on the minimum required interval, if any, between COVID-19 recovery and ART. There is no evidence of a negative effect of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination on semen parameters or spermatogenesis, ovarian function, ovarian reserve or folliculogenesis. A transient effect on the menstrual cycle has been documented. Despite concerns, cross reactivity between anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike protein antibodies and Syncytin-1, an essential protein in human implantation, is absent. There is no influence of mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccine on patients' performance during their immediate subsequent ART cycle. Pregnancy rates post-vaccination are similar to those in unvaccinated patients. WIDER IMPLICATIONS: This review highlights existing knowledge on the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19 on fertility and assisted reproduction, but also identifies gaps and offers suggestions for future research. The knowledge presented should help to provide evidence-based advice for practitioners and couples contemplating pregnancy alike, facilitating informed decision-making in an environment of significant emotional turmoil.

2.
Hum Reprod Open ; 2022(4): hoac040, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2051405

ABSTRACT

STUDY QUESTION: Three years after the start of the ESHRE ART Centre Certification (ARTCC) programme, what is the current state of the system, in terms of the interest expressed in it and experiences during the assessment of ART services? SUMMARY ANSWER: As of 1 December 2021, 25 European ART centres have been involved in the various stages of certification and the most common recommendations from inspectors were the need for documented training, verification of competencies for all staff members, verification of laboratory and clinical performance indicators, implementation of a quality management system and avoidance of overusing ICSI and add-ons. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: European Union (EU) legislation has included ART activities in the EU Tissue and Cells Directives (EUTCDs). Following inspections by national EUTCD authorities, many details regarding documentation, laboratory environment, handling of reproductive cells and tissues, traceability, coding and patient testing have become standardized. However, the EUTCDs do not cover all ART-specific aspects. For this reason, the ARTCC was established to focus on peculiar areas, including relevant staff qualifications, training, continuing professional development, workload, equipment suitability, (non)-evidence-based laboratory and clinical methods used, treatment approaches according to ESHRE guidelines, recommendations and laboratory and clinical key performance indicators. STUDY DESIGN SIZE DURATION: The article reviews the state-of-the-art of the ESHRE certification of ART centres for good clinical and laboratory practice over an initial 3-year period of operation, including the number of ART centres involved in the different stages of certification and the most common recommendations by inspectors. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS SETTING METHODS: In 2016, the ARTCC working group began to establish a new ESHRE ARTCC programme. Since then, the working group has organized 4 preparatory courses and appointed 37 inspectors (19 clinicians, 17 embryologists and one paramedical). A tool to verify compliance with ESHRE recommendations for good laboratory and clinical practice was developed. The ARTCC has been open for applications since September 2018. In Step 1, the applicant enters basic information about the ART centre, staff and ART activities into the application platform. After review and approval, the applicant is given the opportunity to enter Step 2 and provide detailed online checklists on general, laboratory, clinical services and clinical outcomes. Two inspectors (one clinician and one embryologist) independently evaluate the submitted checklists. The condition to proceed to evaluation is a positive mean score (at least 66%) from each of the four checklists. In Step 3, a live site visit (or virtual owing to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic) is organized and the inspectors prepare a final report with appropriate recommendations. The application may be rejected at any time if the criteria required to advance to the next stage are not met. The ARTCC programme is currently available for European countries listed in ESHRE internal rules, available on the ESHRE website. The certificate is valid for 3 years, after which an application for renewal can be submitted. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Over a 3-year period (until 1 December 2021), 63 ART centres from 25 countries started applying through an online platform. So far, 38 applications did not progress owing to lack of completion of the initial application within a 1-year period or because applications came from non-European countries. Of the remaining 25 applications, 8 centres have been inspected and 7 centres have been certified. The most common recommendations given by inspectors to assessed centres were the need for documented training, verification of competencies, skills and continuing professional development for all staff members, verification of laboratory and clinical performance indicators and implementation of a quality management system. The inspectors identified some recurring areas of medically assisted reproduction that deviate from good practice: the overuse of ICSI, preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidies, freeze-all and other add-ons. They often reported that the clinical outcomes could not be objectively assessed because of non-inclusion of the started cycles or the frequent use of freeze-all cycles. LIMITATIONS REASONS FOR CAUTION: No major modifications have been made to the application platform and checklists since the early stages of the certification programme. However, in this short time, quite a few changes in clinical practice have occurred, especially concerning the more frequent use of the 'freeze-all' strategy. As a result, problems arose in the evaluation of clinical outcomes. In addition, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, site visits were substituted by the implementation of virtual visits. While this enabled the certification programme to continue, it is possible that certain critical details that would have been noticed during a traditional site visit may have been overlooked. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Regular monitoring of the observations of ARTCC inspectors and analysis of their reports is certainly useful to harmonize inspectors' criteria in the assessment process and to identify chronic deficiencies in clinical and laboratory practice. Non-conformities can be addressed by ESHRE through guidelines and recommendations, as well as through discussion with EU institutions and competent authorities. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS: The ARTCC programme was developed and funded by ESHRE, covering expenses associated with the meetings. The Steering Committee members who are the authors of this article did not receive payments for the completion of this study. The inspectors were remunerated for their work with an honorarium. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

3.
Stem Cell Res Ther ; 13(1): 408, 2022 08 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2002225

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The increasing number of clinical trials for induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cell therapy products makes the production on clinical grade iPSC more and more relevant and necessary. Cord blood banks are an ideal source of young, HLA-typed and virus screened starting material to produce HLA-homozygous iPSC lines for wide immune-compatibility allogenic cell therapy approaches. The production of such clinical grade iPSC lines (haplolines) involves particular attention to all steps since donor informed consent, cell procurement and a GMP-compliant cell isolation process. METHODS: Homozygous cord blood units were identified and quality verified before recontacting donors for informed consent. CD34+ cells were purified from the mononuclear fraction isolated in a cell processor, by magnetic microbeads labelling and separation columns. RESULTS: We obtained a median recovery of 20.0% of the collected pre-freezing CD34+, with a final product median viability of 99.1% and median purity of 83.5% of the post-thawed purified CD34+ population. CONCLUSIONS: Here we describe our own experience, from unit selection and donor reconsenting, in generating a CD34+ cell product as a starting material to produce HLA-homozygous iPSC following a cost-effective and clinical grade-compliant procedure. These CD34+ cells are the basis for the Spanish bank of haplolines envisioned to serve as a source of cell products for clinical research and therapy.


Subject(s)
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells , Antigens, CD34/genetics , Antigens, CD34/metabolism , Blood Banks , Fetal Blood , Homozygote , Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells/metabolism
4.
Hum Reprod ; 36(11): 2883-2890, 2021 10 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1603626

ABSTRACT

STUDY QUESTION: What is the impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection on the outcome of a pregnancy after medically assisted reproduction (MAR)? SUMMARY ANSWER: Our results suggest that MAR pregnancies are not differentially affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to spontaneous pregnancies. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Information on the effects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on pregnancy after MAR is scarce when women get infected during MAR or early pregnancy, even though such information is vital for informing women seeking pregnancy. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: Data from SARS-CoV-2 affected MAR pregnancies were collected between May 2020 and June 2021 through a voluntary data collection, organised by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: All ESHRE members were invited to participate to an online data collection for SARS-CoV-2-infected MAR pregnancies. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: The dataset includes 80 cases from 32 countries, including 67 live births, 10 miscarriages, 2 stillbirths and 1 maternal death. An additional 25pregnancies were ongoing at the time of writing. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: An international data registry based on voluntary contribution can be subject to selective reporting with possible risks of over- or under-estimation. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: The current data can be used to guide clinical decisions in the care of women pregnant after MAR, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): The authors acknowledge the support of ESHRE for the data registry and meetings. J.S.T. reports grants or contracts from Sigrid Juselius Foundation, EU and Helsinki University Hospital Funds, outside the scope of the current work. The other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: N/A.


Subject(s)
Abortion, Spontaneous , COVID-19 , Female , Humans , Pandemics , Pregnancy , Reproduction , SARS-CoV-2
5.
6.
Hum Reprod ; 36(2): 275-282, 2021 01 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-814146

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic created a significant impact on medically assisted reproduction (MAR) services. ESHRE decided to mobilize resources in order to collect, analyse, monitor, prepare and disseminate severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) knowledge specifically related to ART and early pregnancy. This article presents the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic focusing on reproductive healthcare. It details the rationale behind the guidance prepared to support MAR services in organizing and managing the re-start of treatments or in case of any future wave of COVID-19 disease. The guidance includes information on patient selection and informed consent, staff and patient triage and testing, adaptation of ART services, treatment planning and code of conduct. The initiatives detailed in this article are not necessarily COVID-specific and such action plans could be applied effectively to manage similar emergency situations in different areas of medicine, in the future.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Reproductive Techniques, Assisted , Female , Humans , Pregnancy , Reproductive Health Services , SARS-CoV-2
7.
Hum Reprod Open ; 2020(3): hoaa035, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-719244

ABSTRACT

STUDY QUESTION: How did coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) impact on medically assisted reproduction (MAR) services in Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic (March to May 2020)? SUMMARY ANSWER: MAR services, and hence treatments for infertile couples, were stopped in most European countries for a mean of 7 weeks. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: With the outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe, non-urgent medical care was reduced by local authorities to preserve health resources and maintain social distancing. Furthermore, ESHRE and other societies recommended to postpone ART pregnancies as of 14 March 2020. STUDY DESIGN SIZE DURATION: A structured questionnaire was distributed in April among the ESHRE Committee of National Representatives, followed by further information collection through email. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS SETTING METHODS: The information was collected through the questionnaire and afterwards summarised and aligned with data from the European Centre for Disease Control on the number of COVID-19 cases per country. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: By aligning the data for each country with respective epidemiological data, we show a large variation in the time and the phase in the epidemic in the curve when MAR/ART treatments were suspended and restarted. Similarly, the duration of interruption varied. Fertility preservation treatments and patient supportive care for patients remained available during the pandemic. LARGE SCALE DATA: N/A. LIMITATIONS REASONS FOR CAUTION: Data collection was prone to misinterpretation of the questions and replies, and required further follow-up to check the accuracy. Some representatives reported that they, themselves, were not always aware of the situation throughout the country or reported difficulties with providing single generalised replies, for instance when there were regional differences within their country. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: The current article provides a basis for further research of the different strategies developed in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Such conclusions will be invaluable for health authorities and healthcare professionals with respect to future similar situations. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS: There was no funding for the study, apart from technical support from ESHRE. The authors had no COI to disclose.

9.
Hum Reprod Open ; 2020(3): hoaa033, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-640736
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