Endometrial receptivity defects during IVF cycles with and without letrozole

Paul B. Miller, Brent A. Parnell, Greta Bushnell, Nicholas Tallman, David A. Forstein, H. Lee Higdon, Jo Kitawaki, Bruce A. Lessey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Background Our aim was to study ways to improve IVF success rates in women with suspected endometrial receptivity defects.Methods We conducted a retrospective cohort study examining the effect of letrozole (aromatase inhibitor) on integrin expression as a marker of endometrial receptivity. We compared IVF outcomes in 97 infertile women who had undergone ανβ3 integrin assessment by immunohistochemistry in mid-luteal endometrial biopsies. Of 79 women undergoing standard IVF, 29 (36.7) lacked normal integrin expression. Eighteen other women with low integrin were studied after receiving letrozole during early IVF stimulation. An independent set of ανβ3 integrin-negative patients (n 15) who had undergone repeat endometrial biopsy for integrin testing while taking letrozole were re-evaluated. Results Clinical pregnancy and delivery rates were higher in women with normal ανβ3 integrin expression compared with those who were integrin negative [20/50 (40) versus 4/29 (13.8); P 0.02 and 19/50 (38) versus 2/29 (7); P < 0.01, respectively]. In 18 women who received letrozole early in IVF, 11 conceived (61.1; P < 0.001) compared with integrin-negative patients who did not receive letrozole. In integrin-negative women who were rebiopsied on letrozole, 66.7 reverted to normal integrin expression. Positive endometrial aromatase immunostaining using a polyclonal antibody was a common finding in infertile patients compared with controls. Conclusions Lack of endometrial ανβ3 integrin expression is associated with a poor prognosis for IVF that might be improved with letrozole co-treatment. Prospective studies are needed to confirm and extend these findings but the data suggest that aromatase expression may contribute to implantation failure in some women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)881-888
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


  • IVF/ICSI outcome
  • endometrial receptivity
  • endometriosis
  • female infertility
  • implantation


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