Ramkumar Menon, Elizabeth A. Bonney, Jennifer Condon, Sam Mesiano and Robert N. Taylor, Novel concepts on pregnancy clocks and alarms: redundancy and synergy in human parturition in Hum. Reprod. Update (2016) doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmw022
With the present issue of Human Reproduction Update it is my pleasure to announce a new series of review articles entitled Grand Themes in Reproductive Biology and Medicine. The aim of these articles is to provide an all-encompassing overview of the most critical themes in clinical and basic sciences related to reproduction, authored by substantial experts in the field. These review articles have a special format permitting a more detailed discussion of topics with more illustration (and references) than regular reviews in the journal.
The current issue presents our first Grand Theme review on the mechanisms of human parturition. The article by Menon and colleagues presents a timely and critical insight to the topic, not only discussing the current knowledge, but highlighting gaps and proposing future avenues of research. In particular, Menon and colleagues describe the various clocks and alarms that actively control the birth process, an event at the centre of the reproduction. In human reproduction there is a surprising level of redundancy and number of synergistic processes in comparison to the other mammalian species. Foetal membrane senescence, endocrine clocks, inflammatory and mechanical factors are well coordinated as initiators and effectors of human parturition and their better understanding will allow new medical intervention to improve pregnancy outcomes.
Timothy Bracewell-Milnes, Srdjan Saso, Shabana Bora, Alaa M. Ismail, Maya Al-Memar, Ali Hasan Hamed, Hossam Abdalla, and Meen-Yau Thum, Investigating psychosocial attitudes, motivations and experiences of oocyte donors, recipients and egg sharers: a systematic review in Hum. Reprod. Update (July/August 2016) 22 (4): 450-465 doi:10.1093/humupd/dmw006
In this issue of Human Reproduction Update, Timothy Bracewell-Milnes and colleagues systematically review the psychosocial aspects of oocyte donation. The review considers the viewpoints of oocyte donors and recipients, as well as those of egg sharers. Attitudes towards donor anonymity are discussed, together with the impact of recent legislative measure taken to monitor programmes. These data will be very helpful in counselling couples entering oocyte donation programmes.
Viveca Söderström-Anttila et al., Surrogacy: outcomes for surrogate mothers, children and the resulting families - a systematic review in Hum. Reprod. Update (March/April 2016) 22 (2): 260-276. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmv046
The current issue of HRU presents a systematic review from Söderström-Anttila and colleagues discussing surrogacy outcomes; outcomes for the surrogate mother, the offspring and the resulting family. This article is one of the most original reads on a ‘hot topic’ in reproductive medicine and covers all aspects of surrogacy. Söderström-Anttila et al. compared medical and psychological outcomes after surrogacy with other ART (or natural conception) pregnancies and found no major differences. While over 1795 articles were identified during the authors’ literature search, only 55 met their inclusion criteria highlighting the need for further, methodologically-sound, research, including the impact of cross-border surrogacy.
Petra L.Wale and David K. Gardner, The effects of chemical and physical factors on mammalian embryo culture and their importance for the practice of assisted human reproduction in Hum. Reprod. Update (January/February 2016) 22 (1): 2-22. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmv034
In the current issue of Human Reproduction Update, Wale and Gardner review the optimization of laboratory procedures in assisted human reproduction, including recent developments to improve culture media formulations used in IVF. The in vitro environment of assisted reproduction contains many chemical and physical factors that are thought to negatively affect embryo development. As exposure to such stresses may be critical for embryonic and foetal growth, it is crucial to identify, and minimize, these various negative factors in the practice of human IVF in order to improve the outcome.