OBJECTIVE: To study the presence of viral RNA in the follicular fluid, cumulus cells, and endometrial tissue samples in SARS-CoV-2-positive women undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART).
DESIGN: Prospective, single-center, observational study.
SETTING: Tertiary hospital.
PATIENT(S): A total of 16 patients undergoing transvaginal oocyte retrieval who had a positive SARS-CoV-2 RNA test <48 hours before the procedure. All patients underwent the retrieval between September 2020 and June 2021 and used in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection. All embryos were vitrified to avoid conception during SARS-CoV-2 infection.
INTERVENTION(S): Follicular fluid aspirated during oocyte retrieval, cumulus cells, and endometrial samples were analyzed for SARS-CoV-2 RNA using the RealStar SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR-Kit1.0.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): The primary outcome parameter was the detection of viral RNA in the follicular fluid, cumulus cells, and endometrial cells. Fertilization rate, embryo developmental potential, and clinical outcome after frozen embryo transfer were secondary outcome parameters.
RESULT(S): Samples from 16 patients were analyzed. Cycle threshold values of <40 were considered positive. All samples were negative for SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA. No inflammatory lesions of the endometrium were identified histologically. Fertilization rate, embryo development, and clinical outcomes after embryo transfer were reassuring.
CONCLUSION(S): In women infected with SARS-CoV-2 who underwent ART, viral RNA was undetectable in the follicular fluid, cumulus cells, and endometrium. Caution is warranted in view of the small sample size, and the risk of SARS-CoV-2 affecting the embryo via ART cannot be ruled out. Adequate counseling of women and couples undergoing ART is crucial in parallel with further research on the effect of exposure of the early human embryo to SARS-CoV-2.
CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT04425317.
Bibliographical noteCopyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier Inc.
- cumulus cells
- follicular fluid
- human embryo