Levels of a fertility hormone detected in human hair

The prospect of a non-invasive test of ovarian reserve is a little closer following results from a study showing that measurement of a fertility hormone can be accurately taken from a sample of human hair.

Anti-Mullerian hormone, or AMH, has become a key marker in the assessment of how women may respond to fertility treatment. The hormone is produced by small cells surrounding each egg as it develops in the ovary, and AMH measurement has become an intrinsic marker in assessing how a patient will respond to ovarian stimulation for IVF — as a normal responder, poor responder (with few eggs) or over-responder (with many eggs and a risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, OHSS).

AMH is measured in a serum blood sample. The readings represent a measurement at a short moment in time and are relatively invasive to complete. Now, however, a new study presented at the online Annual Meeting of ESHRE has tested the quantification of AMH from human hair and found it to be a less invasive and a “more appropriate representation of hormone levels” than from an “acute” source like serum.

“Biologically relevant” AMH levels were successfully detected in the hair samples, with levels declining with patient age, as expected. As ovarian reserve declines with age, so do AMH levels. The AMH levels from hair strongly correlated with serum levels.

“So hair,” explain the authors, “is a medium that can accumulate biomarkers over several weeks, while serum is an acute matrix representing only current levels. While hormone levels in blood can fluctuate rapidly in response to stimuli, hormone levels measured in hair would represent an accumulation over several weeks. A measurement using a hair sample is more likely to reflect the average hormone levels in an individual.”

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