Obese women fail to conceive due to their ‘fatty’ ovaries

Washington: High levels of saturated fatty acids commonly found in the ovaries of obese women and those with Type II diabetes can upset embryonic development and lead to failed pregnancies, according to a new research.

The study could help to explain why women suffering from metabolic disorders like obesity and diabetes struggle to conceive.

Patients in this group tend to metabolise more of their stored fat, resulting in higher levels of fatty acids being present within the ovary, which research has already shown to be toxic for the growing eggs before ovulation.

“We know from our previous research that high levels of fatty acids can affect the development of eggs in the ovary, but this is the first time we``ve been able to follow through to show a negative impact on the surviving embryo,” said lead researcher, Professor Jo Leroy from the University of Antwerp.

Embryos most likely to produce a successful pregnancy tended to have a ``quieter``, less active, metabolism, said the scientists.

“Where eggs were exposed to high levels of fatty acids, the resulting embryos showed increased amino acid metabolism and altered consumption of oxygen, glucose and lactate - all of which indicates impaired metabolic regulation and reduced viability,” said co-author Dr Roger Sturmey, from the University of Hull.

Although fatty acid exposure did not prevent eggs developing to the two-cell stage, the number reaching the point of becoming ``blastocyst`` clusters of 70 to 100 cells was significantly reduced.

The study has been published in PLoS ONE.


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