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Intralipid (IL) Administration in IVF Explained

by Dr. Geoffrey Sher on July 11, 2016

Intralipid (IL) is a solution of small lipid droplets suspended in water. When administered intravenously, IL provides essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. It is made up of 20% soybean oil/fatty acids (comprising linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, linolenic acid and stearic acid), 1.2% egg yolk phospholipids (1.2%), glycerin (2.25%) and water (76.5%).

Possible Mode of Action:

It is thought that fatty acids within the emulsion serve as ligands to activate peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) expressed by the NK cells. This is believed to decrease NK cytotoxic activity, and thereby enhance implantation. A growing number of IVF programs, including ours, perform egg retrieval under conscious sedation using Propofol, a short acting hypnotic agent. Interestingly, similar to Intralipid 1% Propofol also contains the same concentration of soybean oil, and purified egg phospholipid, with glycerin. Perhaps its use offers a fringe benefit in cases of immunologic implantation dysfunction.

Whatever the exact mechanism of action might be, IL exerts a modulating effect on certain immune cellular mechanisms largely by down-regulating cytotoxic /activated natural killer cells (NKa). This effect is enhanced through the concomitant administration of corticosteroids such as dexamethasone, prednisolone and prednisone which in my opinion do so by immune modulation of T cells . The combined effect of IL + steroid therapy is thought to suppresses pro-inflammatory cellular (Type-1) cytokines such as interferon gamma and TNF-alpha, produced in excess by activated NK cells and cytotoxic T cells.

IL will in about 80% of cases, successfully down-regulats activated natural killer cells (NKa) within 2-3 weeks. In this regard it is likely to be just as effective as IVIg but at a fraction of the cost and with a far lower incidence of side-effects. Its effect lasts for 4-9 weeks when administered in early pregnancy.

Can in-vitro (laboratory) tests assess for an immediate benefit of IL on Nka?

Since the down-regulation of NKa through IL (or IVIg) therapy can take several weeks to become detectable, it follows that there is really no benefit in trying to assess the potential efficacy of such treatment by retesting NKa in the laboratory after adding IL (or IVIg) to the cells being tested.

Treatment of NKa Using IL:

  • Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction: When it comes to NKa in IVF cases complicated by autoimmune implantation dysfunction, the combination of daily oral dexamethasone commencing with the onset of ovarian stimulation and continuing until the 10th week of pregnancy, combined with an initial infusion of IL (100ml, 20% Il dissolved in 500cc of saline solution, 10-14 days prior to embryo transfer and repeated once more (only), as soon as the blood pregnancy test is positive), the anticipated chance of a viable pregnancy occurring within 2 completed IVF attempts (including fresh + frozen ET’s) in women under 39Y (who have normal ovarian reserve) is approximately 80%.
  • Alloimmune Implantation Dysfunction
    • Partial DQ alpha match: IVF patients who have NKa associated with a partial alloimmune implantation dysfunction (DQ alpha match between partners) we use the same IL, infusion as with autoimmune-NKa, only here we prescribe oral prednisone rather than dexamethasone until the 10th week of pregnancy and IL infusions are repeated every 2-4 weeks following the chemical diagnosis of pregnancy until the 24th week. Additionally, (as alluded to elsewhere) in such cases we transfer only a single embryo at a time. This is because in such cases, the likelihood is that one out of two embryos will “match” and we are fearful that if we transfer >1 embryo, and one transferred embryos “matches” it could cause further activation of uterine NK cells and so prejudice the implantation of all transferred embryos. Since we presently have no way of determining which embryo carries the matching paternal DQ alpha gene and thus would transfer only one embryo at a time, it follows that the anticipated viable pregnancy rate per cycle will be much lower than with autoimmune implantation dysfunction. It also follows the only way to improve success with a single embryo being transferred would be to perform PGS on the embryos in advance of ET and then selectively transfer a “chromosomally normal-euploid (“competent”) embryos.
    • Total (complete) DQ alpha Match: In cases where the partners have a total alloimmune (DQ alpha) match with accompanying NKa the chance of a viable pregnancy occurring or (if it does) resulting in a live birth at term, is so small as to be an indication for using a non-matching sperm donor or resorting to gestational surrogacy would, in our opinion, be preferable by far.

Contra-Indications and Cautions with Intralipid Infusion:

IL is only contraindicated in conditions associated with severely disordered fat metabolism (e.g. severe liver damage, acute myocardial infarction and shock,

Rarely, hypersensitivity has been observed in patients allergic to soybean protein, egg yolk and egg whites and where fat metabolism may be disturbed (e.g. renal insufficiency, uncontrolled diabetes, certain metabolic disorders and in cases oif severe infection (sepsis) sepsis

Adverse Reactions During Infusions of IL (rare):

Adverse reactions (rare) reported to occur during and/or following infusion of Intralipid include: transient fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, headache, back or chest pain with dyspnea and cyanosis.

In cases of verified or suspected liver insufficiency, liver function must be closely followed. If increased levels of transaminases, alkaline phosphatases or bilirubin appear, infusion of Intralipid should be withheld or postponed, until normalization is achieved.
Very rare cases of hypersensitivity have been observed in patients allergic to soybean protein, egg yolk and egg whites.

Fat metabolism may be disturbed in conditions such as renal insufficiency, uncompensated diabetes, certain forms of liver insufficiency, metabolic disorders and sepsis.
Administration:
The drip rate is adjusted to 500 ml of a 20% solution should be infused over about 2-3 hours. The infusion should be started at half the infusion rate during the first 30 minutes, under supervision.

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  • Niki - November 11, 2017 reply

    Hello Dr Sher ,
    I did last year Ivf of fet with intralipid 10 day before transfer , than with the positive blood pregnancy test. And than 4 weeks later.
    Is it change now to 2 times only ?
    Thank you sooo much Niki .

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - November 11, 2017 reply

    Usually only twice but it depends on the cause of the immunologic plantation dysfunction (IID).

    Geoff Sher

  • Tasha Tee - July 12, 2017 reply

    Dr Sher, my husband and I have DQ alpha gene match. i have just had two failed FETS. We did IVIG, Intralipids, dex, clexane, asprin and also adjusted the timing of the transfer as i did an ERA biopsy and it still did not work! We still have 2 PGD tested embryos left. With the 2 failing, I am not sure I want to transfer anymore of our embies with such a low chance even after doing the full immune suppresion therapy. My doc has said donor sperm is the next path to take, and I am fine with that, however they do not test the donors for DQ alpha gene. What are the odds of an annonymous donor sharing the same DQ again? its such a gamble. What are your thoughts? Looking forward to your response.

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - July 12, 2017 reply

    DQa matching is only significant if there in addition is NK cell activation and it is unlikely that a surrogate (even if she matches your husband would have NKa+. In my opinion, it is important to note that only a partial match is amenable to IL/steroid therapy (not a total match) , provided that no more than one embryo is transferred at a time….see below.

    Whenever a patient fails to achieve a viable pregnancy following embryo transfer (ET), the first question asked is why! Was it simply due to, bad luck?, How likely is the failure to recur in future attempts and what can be done differently, to avoid it happening next time?.
    It is an indisputable fact that any IVF procedure is at least as likely to fail as it is to succeed. Thus when it comes to outcome, luck is an undeniable factor. Notwithstanding, it is incumbent upon the treating physician to carefully consider and address the causes of IVF failure before proceeding to another attempt:
    1. Age: The chance of a woman under 35Y of age having a baby per embryo transfer is about 35-40%. From there it declines progressively to under 5% by the time she reaches her mid-forties. This is largely due to declining chromosomal integrity of the eggs with advancing age…”a wear and tear effect” on eggs that are in the ovaries from birth.
    2. Embryo Quality/”competency (capable of propagating a viable pregnancy)”. As stated, the woman’s age plays a big role in determining egg/embryo quality/”competency”. This having been said, aside from age the protocol used for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) is the next most important factor. It is especially important when it comes to older women, and women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) where it becomes essential to be aggressive, and to customize and individualize the ovarian stimulation protocol.
    We used to believe that the uterine environment is more beneficial to embryo development than is the incubator/petri dish and that accordingly, the earlier on in development that embryos are transferred to the uterus, the better. To achieve this goal, we used to select embryos for transfer based upon their day two or microscopic appearance (“grade”). But we have since learned that the further an embryo has advanced in its development, the more likely it is to be “competent” and that embryos failing to reach the expanded blastocyst stage within 5-6 days of being fertilized are almost invariably “incompetent” and are unworthy of being transferred. Moreover, the introduction into clinical practice about a decade ago, (by Levent Keskintepe PhD and myself) of Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS), which assesses for the presence of all the embryos chromosomes (complete chromosomal karyotyping), provides another tool by which to select the most “competent” embryos for transfer. This methodology has selective benefit when it comes to older women, women with DOR, cases of unexplained repeated IVF failure and women who experience recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL).
    3. The number of the embryos transferred: Most patients believe that the more embryos transferred the greater the chance of success. To some extent this might be true, but if the problem lies with the use of a suboptimal COS protocol, transferring more embryos at a time won’t improve the chance of success. Nor will the transfer of a greater number of embryos solve an underlying embryo implantation dysfunction (anatomical molecular or immunologic).Moreover, the transfer of multiple embryos, should they implant, can and all too often does result in triplets or greater (high order multiples) which increases the incidence of maternal pregnancy-induced complications and of premature delivery with its serious risks to the newborn. It is for this reason that I rarely recommend the transfer of more than 2 embryos at a time and am moving in the direction of advising single embryo transfers …especially when it comes to transferring embryos derived through the fertilization of eggs from young women.
    4. Implantation Dysfunction (ID): Implantation dysfunction is a very common (often overlooked) cause of “unexplained” IVF failure. This is especially the case in young ovulating women who have normal ovarian reserve and have fertile partners. Failure to identify, typify, and address such issues is, in my opinion, an unfortunate and relatively common cause of repeated IVF failure in such women. Common sense dictates that if ultrasound guided embryo transfer is performed competently and yet repeated IVF attempts fail to propagate a viable pregnancy, implantation dysfunction must be seriously considered. Yet ID is probably the most overlooked factor. The most common causes of implantation dysfunction are:
    a. A“ thin uterine lining”
    b. A uterus with surface lesions in the cavity (polyps, fibroids, scar tissue)
    c. Immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID)
    d. Endocrine/molecular endometrial receptivity issues
    Certain causes of infertility are repetitive and thus cannot readily be reversed. Examples include advanced age of the woman; severe male infertility; immunologic infertility associated with alloimmune implantation dysfunction (especially if it is a “complete DQ alpha genetic match between partners plus uterine natural killer cell activation (NKa).
    I strongly recommend that you visit http://www.DrGeoffreySherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select. Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.

    • The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride”
    • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
    • IVF: Factors Affecting Egg/Embryo “competency” during Controlled Ovarian Stimulation(COS)
    • The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success
    • Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
    • Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
    • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
    • Human Growth Hormone Administration in IVF: Does it Enhances Egg/Embryo Quality and Outcome?
    • The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
    • Blastocyst Embryo Transfers Should be the Standard of Care in IVF
    • IVF: How Many Attempts should be considered before Stopping?
    • “Unexplained” Infertility: Often a matter of the Diagnosis Being Overlooked!
    • IVF Failure and Implantation Dysfunction:
    • The Role of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 1-Background
    • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 2- Making a Diagnosis
    • Immunologic Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 3-Treatment
    • Thyroid autoantibodies and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
    • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction: Importance of Meticulous Evaluation and Strategic Management:(Case Report
    • Intralipid and IVIG therapy: Understanding the Basis for its use in the Treatment of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
    • Intralipid (IL) Administration in IVF: It’s Composition; How it Works; Administration; Side-effects; Reactions and Precautions
    • Natural Killer Cell Activation (NKa) and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction in IVF: The Controversy!
    • Endometrial Thickness, Uterine Pathology and Immunologic Factors
    • Vaginally Administered Viagra is Often a Highly Effective Treatment to Help Thicken a Thin Uterine Lining
    • Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
    • A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
    • How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF.
    • The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF
    ANNOUNCEMENTS:
    1. About my Retirement
    After > 30 years in the field of Assisted Reproduction (AR), the time has finally come for me to contemplate retiring from full-time clinical medicine. If you are interested in my medical services prior to my retirement, I urge you to contact my concierge, Julie Dahan ASAP to set up a Skype or an in-person consultation with me. You can also contact Julie by phone or via email at 702-533-2691/ Julied@sherivf.com. You can also apply online at http://www.SherIVF.com.

    2. The 4th edition of my newest book ,
    “In Vitro Fertilization, the ART of Making Babies” is now available as a down-load through http://www.Amazon.com or from most bookstores and public libraries.

    Geoffrey Sher MD

  • Leanne - April 9, 2017 reply

    Hi Dr Sher, I have had 9 x IVF’s numerous of my own 5 day blastocysts transfers, all negative pregnancy.
    Had 2 donor 5 day blastocysts transferred, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy.
    Had another 2 donor 5 day blastocysts transferred, resulting in negative pregnancy.
    This time round with donor 5 day blastocysts, I have been prescribed intralipids (20%) 9 days prior to FET. Starting Prometrium & 10 mg Prednison 4 days after intralipids.
    Timeline leading up to FET
    9 days prior to FET: Intralipids (20%)
    6 days prior to FET: Prednisone (10mg) (once /day)
    5 days prior to FET: Prometrium & Endometrin (twice daily)
    1 day prior to FET: Clexane 40 mg continue to 12 weeks of pregnancy
    0 days: FET: Prednisone increased to 20mg for 3 days and then 5 mg until 12 weeks of pregnancy

    From CD 1 have been on 8mg Estrogen, low dose aspirin, folic acid and prenatal vitamins

    Can you please advise if the intralipids were given too early to commencing Prometrium & Endometrin?

    I have endometriosis, Thyroperoxidas Antibodies are high: 62 U/mL (normal range <60), FT4 13.9 pmol/l (normal range 9-19), TSH 2.1 mU//L (normal range 0.4-4.0).
    2 x sisters with rheumatoid arthritis.

    Any advice welcomed.

    Leanne (Auckland, NZ)

    Leanne - April 9, 2017 reply

    Forgot to mention, within 8 hours of having intralipids my eczema flared up for the first time in 8 months? Is this due to the intralipids?

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - April 9, 2017 reply

    No! I doubt there is a relationship.

    Geoff Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - April 9, 2017 reply

    Sounds reasonable. I would however try to make certain that there is no underlying alloimmune component (DQ alpha/HLA matching between you and your partner), since this would alter treatment significantly. I also suggest starting the s therapy sooner (10-14 days prior to ET).

    Whenever a patient fails to achieve a viable pregnancy following embryo transfer (ET), the first question asked is why! Was it simply due to, bad luck?, How likely is the failure to recur in future attempts and what can be done differently, to avoid it happening next time?.
    It is an indisputable fact that any IVF procedure is at least as likely to fail as it is to succeed. Thus when it comes to outcome, luck is an undeniable factor. Notwithstanding, it is incumbent upon the treating physician to carefully consider and address the causes of IVF failure before proceeding to another attempt:
    1. Age: The chance of a woman under 35Y of age having a baby per embryo transfer is about 35-40%. From there it declines progressively to under 5% by the time she reaches her mid-forties. This is largely due to declining chromosomal integrity of the eggs with advancing age…”a wear and tear effect” on eggs that are in the ovaries from birth.
    2. Embryo Quality/”competency (capable of propagating a viable pregnancy)”. As stated, the woman’s age plays a big role in determining egg/embryo quality/”competency”. This having been said, aside from age the protocol used for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) is the next most important factor. It is especially important when it comes to older women, and women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) where it becomes essential to be aggressive, and to customize and individualize the ovarian stimulation protocol.
    We used to believe that the uterine environment is more beneficial to embryo development than is the incubator/petri dish and that accordingly, the earlier on in development that embryos are transferred to the uterus, the better. To achieve this goal, we used to select embryos for transfer based upon their day two or microscopic appearance (“grade”). But we have since learned that the further an embryo has advanced in its development, the more likely it is to be “competent” and that embryos failing to reach the expanded blastocyst stage within 5-6 days of being fertilized are almost invariably “incompetent” and are unworthy of being transferred. Moreover, the introduction into clinical practice about a decade ago, (by Levent Keskintepe PhD and myself) of Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS), which assesses for the presence of all the embryos chromosomes (complete chromosomal karyotyping), provides another tool by which to select the most “competent” embryos for transfer. This methodology has selective benefit when it comes to older women, women with DOR, cases of unexplained repeated IVF failure and women who experience recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL).
    3. The number of the embryos transferred: Most patients believe that the more embryos transferred the greater the chance of success. To some extent this might be true, but if the problem lies with the use of a suboptimal COS protocol, transferring more embryos at a time won’t improve the chance of success. Nor will the transfer of a greater number of embryos solve an underlying embryo implantation dysfunction (anatomical molecular or immunologic).Moreover, the transfer of multiple embryos, should they implant, can and all too often does result in triplets or greater (high order multiples) which increases the incidence of maternal pregnancy-induced complications and of premature delivery with its serious risks to the newborn. It is for this reason that I rarely recommend the transfer of more than 2 embryos at a time and am moving in the direction of advising single embryo transfers …especially when it comes to transferring embryos derived through the fertilization of eggs from young women.
    4. Implantation Dysfunction (ID): Implantation dysfunction is a very common (often overlooked) cause of “unexplained” IVF failure. This is especially the case in young ovulating women who have normal ovarian reserve and have fertile partners. Failure to identify, typify, and address such issues is, in my opinion, an unfortunate and relatively common cause of repeated IVF failure in such women. Common sense dictates that if ultrasound guided embryo transfer is performed competently and yet repeated IVF attempts fail to propagate a viable pregnancy, implantation dysfunction must be seriously considered. Yet ID is probably the most overlooked factor. The most common causes of implantation dysfunction are:
    a. A“ thin uterine lining”
    b. A uterus with surface lesions in the cavity (polyps, fibroids, scar tissue)
    c. Immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID)
    d. Endocrine/molecular endometrial receptivity issues
    Certain causes of infertility are repetitive and thus cannot readily be reversed. Examples include advanced age of the woman; severe male infertility; immunologic infertility associated with alloimmune implantation dysfunction (especially if it is a “complete DQ alpha genetic match between partners plus uterine natural killer cell activation (NKa).
    I strongly recommend that you visit http://www.DrGeoffreySherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select. Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.

    • The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride”
    • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
    • IVF: Factors Affecting Egg/Embryo “competency” during Controlled Ovarian Stimulation(COS)
    • The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success
    • Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
    • Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
    • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
    • Human Growth Hormone Administration in IVF: Does it Enhances Egg/Embryo Quality and Outcome?
    • The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
    • Blastocyst Embryo Transfers Should be the Standard of Care in IVF
    • IVF: How Many Attempts should be considered before Stopping?
    • “Unexplained” Infertility: Often a matter of the Diagnosis Being Overlooked!
    • IVF Failure and Implantation Dysfunction:
    • The Role of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 1-Background
    • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 2- Making a Diagnosis
    • Immunologic Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 3-Treatment
    • Thyroid autoantibodies and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
    • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction: Importance of Meticulous Evaluation and Strategic Management:(Case Report
    • Intralipid and IVIG therapy: Understanding the Basis for its use in the Treatment of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
    • Intralipid (IL) Administration in IVF: It’s Composition; How it Works; Administration; Side-effects; Reactions and Precautions
    • Natural Killer Cell Activation (NKa) and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction in IVF: The Controversy!
    • Endometrial Thickness, Uterine Pathology and Immunologic Factors
    • Vaginally Administered Viagra is Often a Highly Effective Treatment to Help Thicken a Thin Uterine Lining
    • Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
    • A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
    • How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF.
    • The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF

    Please call or email Julie Dahan, my patient concierge. She will guide you on how to set up an in-person or Skype consultation with me. You can reach Julie at on her cell phone or via email at any time:
    Julie Dahan
    • Email: Julied@sherivf.com
    • Phone: 702-533-2691
     800-780-7437

    Geoff Sher

    I also suggest that you access the 4th edition of my book ,”In Vitro Fertilization, the ART of Making Babies”. It is available as a down-load through http://www.Amazon.com or from most bookstores and public libraries.

  • angel - February 15, 2017 reply

    hi Dr. Sher,
    i have had 2 failed ivfs and this third one worked and am 5 weeks pregnant. My RE did intralipid infusion on me the day of embryo retrieval and is now recommending me do the second friday at 5 weeks pregnant. He never tested for elevated NK cells but rather just said it could only help not hurt my situation since ive had 2 failed ivfs. Is this ok to do in your opinion if say i didnt even have elevated NK cells? pls advise thank you.

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - February 15, 2017 reply

    While I personally do not agree with this type of “shotgun therapy”, your RE is probably correct in that it probably won’t do harm.

    Geoff Sher

  • Leanne - February 10, 2017 reply

    Hi Dr Sher, I’ve just had a 3rd failed cycle and I’m at a complete loss as to how to go forward with the next one. I was found to have high nk cells so the latest cycle I was on steroids, aspirin and had an intralipid too but it still failed. What would be my next step? Does this mean I’ll never get pregnant?

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - February 10, 2017 reply

    I have been struck by the fact that patients suspected of having an immunologic implantation dysfunction, frequently are all too often recommended to undergo the wrong testing, often performed in the wrong laboratories and/ or that the results reported are misinterpreted. This cause a great deal of unnecessary confusion and leads to over-treatment of some and detrimental withholding of required treatment of others.
    • Who Should Undergo IID testing:?
    When it comes to who should be evaluated, the following conditions should in always raise a suspicion of an underlying IID, and trigger prompt testing:
    • A diagnosis of endometriosis or the existence of symptoms suggestive of endometriosis (heavy/painful menstruation and pain with ovulation or with deep penetration during intercourse) I would however emphasize that a definitive diagnosis of endometriosis requires visualization of the lesions at laparoscopy or laparotomy )
    • A personal or family history of autoimmune disease such as hyper/hypothyroidism (as those with elevated or depressed TSH blood levels, regardless of thyroid hormonal dysfunction), Lupus erythematosus, Rheumatoid arthritis, dermatomyositis, scleroderma etc.)
    • “Unexplained” infertility
    • Recurrent pregnancy loss
    • A history of having miscarried a conceptus that, upon testing of products of conception, was found to be euploid (have a normal numerical chromosomal configuration.
    • Unexplained IVF failure
    • “Unexplained” intrauterine growth retardation due to placental insufficiency or late pregnancy loss of a chromosomally normal baby

    • What Parameters should be tested?
    In my opinion, too many Reproductive Immunologists unnecessarily unload a barrage of costly IID tests on unsuspecting patients. In most cases the initial test should be for NK cell activation, and only if this is positive, is it necessary to expand the testing.
    The parameters that require measurement include:
    o For Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction: Autoimmune implantation dysfunction, most commonly presents with presumed “infertility” due to such early pregnancy losses that the woman did not even know she was pregnant in the first place. Sometimes there as an early miscarriage. Tests required are: a) blood levels of all IgA, IgG and IgM-related antiphospholipid antibodies (APA’s) directed against six or seven specific phospholipids, b) both antithyroid antibodies (antithyroid and antimicrosomal antibodies), c) a comprehensive reproductive immunophenotype (RIP) and, c) most importantly, assessment of Natural Killer (NK) cell activity (rather than concentration) by measuring by their killing, using the K-562 target cell test and/or uterine cytokine measurement. As far as the ideal environment for performing such tests, it is important to recognize that currently there are only about 5 or 6, Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories in the U.S capable of reliably analyzing the required elements with a sufficient degree of sensitivity and specificity (in my opinion).
    o For Alloimmune implantation Dysfunction: While alloimmune Implantation usually presents with a history of unexplained (usually repeated) miscarriages or secondary infertility (where the woman conceived initially and thereupon was either unable to conceive started having repeated miscarriages it can also present as “presumed” primary infertility. Alloimmune dysfunction is diagnosed by testing the blood of both the male and female partners for matching DQ alpha genes and NK/CTL activation. It is important to note that any DQ alpha match (partial or complete) will only result in IID when there is concomitant NK/CTL activation (see elsewhere on this blog).

    • How should results be interpreted?
    Central to making a diagnosis of an immunologic implantation dysfunction is the appropriate interpretation of natural killer cell activity (NKa) .In this regard, one of the commonest and most serious errors, is to regard the blood concentration of natural killer cells as being significant. Rather it is the activity (toxicity) of NK cells that matters as mentioned. Then there is the interpretation of reported results. The most important consideration is the percentage of target cells “killed” in the “native state”. In most cases a level of >10% killing should be regarded with suspicion and >12% overtly abnormal. In my opinion, trying to interpret the effect of adding IVIG or Intralipid to the sample in order assess whether and to what degree the use of these products would have a therapeutic benefit is seriously flawed and of little benefit. Clinically relevant NK cell deactivation can only be significantly effected in vivo and takes more than a week following infusion to occur. Thus what happens in the laboratory by adding these products to the sample prior to K-562 target cell testing is in my opinion likely irrelevant.
    There exists a pervasive but blatant misconception on the part of many, that the addition of IL/IVIG can have an immediate down-regulatory effect on NK cell activity. This has established a demand that Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories report on NK cell activity before and following exposure to IVIG and/or IL. However, the fact is that activated “functional” NK cells (NKa) cannot be deactivated in the laboratory. Effective down-regulation of activated NK cells can only be adequately accomplished if their activated “progenitor/parental” NK cells are first down-regulated. Thereupon once these down-regulated “precursor” NK cells are exposed to progesterone, they will begin spawning normal and functional NK cells, which takes about 10-14 days. It follows that to assess for a therapeutic response to IVIG/IL therapy would require that the patient first be treated (10-14 days prior to embryo transfer) and thereupon, about 2 weeks later, be retested. While at 1st glance this might seem to be a reasonable approach, in reality it would be of little clinical benefit because even if blood were to be drawn 10 -14 days after IL/IVIG treatment it would require an additional 10 days to receive results from the laboratory, by which time it would be far too late to be of practical advantage.
    Neither IVIG nor IL is capable of significantly suppressing already activated “functional NK cells”. For this to happen, the IL/IVIG would have to down-regulate progenitor (parent) NK cell” activity. Thus, it should be infused 10-14 several prior to ovulation or progesterone administration so that the down-regulated “progenitor/precursor” NK cells” can propagate a sufficient number of normally regulated “functional NK cell” to be present at the implantation site 7 days later.

    Whenever a patient fails to achieve a viable pregnancy following embryo transfer (ET), the first question asked is why! Was it simply due to, bad luck?, How likely is the failure to recur in future attempts and what can be done differently, to avoid it happening next time?.
    It is an indisputable fact that any IVF procedure is at least as likely to fail as it is to succeed. Thus when it comes to outcome, luck is an undeniable factor. Notwithstanding, it is incumbent upon the treating physician to carefully consider and address the causes of IVF failure before proceeding to another attempt:
    1. Age: The chance of a woman under 35Y of age having a baby per embryo transfer is about 35-40%. From there it declines progressively to under 5% by the time she reaches her mid-forties. This is largely due to declining chromosomal integrity of the eggs with advancing age…”a wear and tear effect” on eggs that are in the ovaries from birth.
    2. Embryo Quality/”competency (capable of propagating a viable pregnancy)”. As stated, the woman’s age plays a big role in determining egg/embryo quality/”competency”. This having been said, aside from age the protocol used for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) is the next most important factor. It is especially important when it comes to older women, and women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) where it becomes essential to be aggressive, and to customize and individualize the ovarian stimulation protocol.
    We used to believe that the uterine environment is more beneficial to embryo development than is the incubator/petri dish and that accordingly, the earlier on in development that embryos are transferred to the uterus, the better. To achieve this goal, we used to select embryos for transfer based upon their day two or microscopic appearance (“grade”). But we have since learned that the further an embryo has advanced in its development, the more likely it is to be “competent” and that embryos failing to reach the expanded blastocyst stage within 5-6 days of being fertilized are almost invariably “incompetent” and are unworthy of being transferred. Moreover, the introduction into clinical practice about a decade ago, (by Levent Keskintepe PhD and myself) of Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS), which assesses for the presence of all the embryos chromosomes (complete chromosomal karyotyping), provides another tool by which to select the most “competent” embryos for transfer. This methodology has selective benefit when it comes to older women, women with DOR, cases of unexplained repeated IVF failure and women who experience recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL).
    3. The number of the embryos transferred: Most patients believe that the more embryos transferred the greater the chance of success. To some extent this might be true, but if the problem lies with the use of a suboptimal COS protocol, transferring more embryos at a time won’t improve the chance of success. Nor will the transfer of a greater number of embryos solve an underlying embryo implantation dysfunction (anatomical molecular or immunologic).Moreover, the transfer of multiple embryos, should they implant, can and all too often does result in triplets or greater (high order multiples) which increases the incidence of maternal pregnancy-induced complications and of premature delivery with its serious risks to the newborn. It is for this reason that I rarely recommend the transfer of more than 2 embryos at a time and am moving in the direction of advising single embryo transfers …especially when it comes to transferring embryos derived through the fertilization of eggs from young women.
    4. Implantation Dysfunction (ID): Implantation dysfunction is a very common (often overlooked) cause of “unexplained” IVF failure. This is especially the case in young ovulating women who have normal ovarian reserve and have fertile partners. Failure to identify, typify, and address such issues is, in my opinion, an unfortunate and relatively common cause of repeated IVF failure in such women. Common sense dictates that if ultrasound guided embryo transfer is performed competently and yet repeated IVF attempts fail to propagate a viable pregnancy, implantation dysfunction must be seriously considered. Yet ID is probably the most overlooked factor. The most common causes of implantation dysfunction are:
    a. A“ thin uterine lining”
    b. A uterus with surface lesions in the cavity (polyps, fibroids, scar tissue)
    c. Immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID)
    d. Endocrine/molecular endometrial receptivity issues
    Certain causes of infertility are repetitive and thus cannot readily be reversed. Examples include advanced age of the woman; severe male infertility; immunologic infertility associated with alloimmune implantation dysfunction (especially if it is a “complete DQ alpha genetic match between partners plus uterine natural killer cell activation (NKa).
    I strongly recommend that you visit http://www.DrGeoffreySherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select. Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.

    • The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride”
    • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
    • IVF: Factors Affecting Egg/Embryo “competency” during Controlled Ovarian Stimulation(COS)
    • The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success
    • Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
    • Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
    • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
    • Human Growth Hormone Administration in IVF: Does it Enhances Egg/Embryo Quality and Outcome?
    • The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
    • Blastocyst Embryo Transfers Should be the Standard of Care in IVF
    • IVF: How Many Attempts should be considered before Stopping?
    • “Unexplained” Infertility: Often a matter of the Diagnosis Being Overlooked!
    • IVF Failure and Implantation Dysfunction:
    • The Role of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 1-Background
    • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 2- Making a Diagnosis
    • Immunologic Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 3-Treatment
    • Thyroid autoantibodies and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
    • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction: Importance of Meticulous Evaluation and Strategic Management:(Case Report
    • Intralipid and IVIG therapy: Understanding the Basis for its use in the Treatment of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
    • Intralipid (IL) Administration in IVF: It’s Composition; How it Works; Administration; Side-effects; Reactions and Precautions
    • Natural Killer Cell Activation (NKa) and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction in IVF: The Controversy!
    • Endometrial Thickness, Uterine Pathology and Immunologic Factors
    • Vaginally Administered Viagra is Often a Highly Effective Treatment to Help Thicken a Thin Uterine Lining
    • Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
    • A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
    • How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF.
    • The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF

    Please call or email Julie Dahan, my patient concierge. She will guide you on how to set up an in-person or Skype consultation with me. You can reach Julie at on her cell phone or via email at any time:
    Julie Dahan
    • Email: Julied@sherivf.com
    • Phone: 702-533-2691
     800-780-7437

    Geoff Sher

    I also suggest that you access the 4th edition of my book ,”In Vitro Fertilization, the ART of Making Babies”. It is available as a down-load through http://www.Amazon.com or from most bookstores and public libraries.

  • Victoria - November 16, 2016 reply

    I’d like to know the quality of the intralipid infusion ingredients and if the soybean is genetically modified. Also, who manufactures these infusions? Thank you.

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - November 16, 2016 reply

    I do not know the answer to these questions. Find out the brand your RE considers using and contact the manufacurers.

    Intralipid (IL) is a solution of small lipid droplets suspended in water. When administered intravenously, IL provides essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. It is made up of 20% soybean oil/fatty acids (comprising linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, linolenic acid and stearic acid), 1.2% egg yolk phospholipids (1.2%), glycerin (2.25%) and water (76.5%).
    Possible Mode of Action:
    It is thought that fatty acids within the emulsion serve as ligands to activate peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) expressed by the NK cells. This is believed to decrease NK cytotoxic activity, and thereby enhance implantation A growing number of IVF programs, including ours, perform egg retrieval under conscious sedation using Propofol, a short acting hypnotic agent. Interestingly, similar to Intralipid 1% Propofol also contains the same concentration of soybean oil, and purified egg phospholipid, with glycerin. Perhaps its use offers a fringe benefit in cases of immunologic implantation dysfunction.
    Whatever the exact mechanism of action might be, IL exerts a modulating effect on certain immune cellular mechanisms largely by down-regulating cytotoxic /activated natural killer cells (NKa). This effect is enhanced through the concomitant administration of corticosteroids such as dexamethasone, prednisolone and prednisone which in my opinion do so by immune modulation of T cells . The combined effect of IL + steroid therapy is thought to suppresses pro-inflammatory cellular (Type-1) cytokines such as interferon gamma and TNF-alpha, produced in excess by activated NK cells and cytotoxic T cells.
    IL will in about 80% of cases, successfully down-regulats activated natural killer cells (NKa) within 2-3 weeks. In this regard it is likely to be just as effective as IVIg but at a fraction of the cost and with a far lower incidence of side-effects. Its effect lasts for 4-9 weeks when administered in early pregnancy.
    Can in-vitro (laboratory) tests assess for an immediate benefit of IL on Nka?
    Since the down-regulation of NKa through IL (or IVIg) therapy can take several weeks to become detectable, it follows that there is really no benefit in trying to assess the potential efficacy of such treatment by retesting NKa in the laboratory after adding IL (or IVIg) to the cells being tested.
    Treatment of NKa Using IL:
    • Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction: When it comes to NKa in IVF cases complicated by autoimmune implantation dysfunction, the combination of daily oral dexamethasone commencing with the onset of ovarian stimulation and continuing until the 10th week of pregnancy, combined with an initial infusion of IL (100ml, 20% Il dissolved in 500cc of saline solution, 10-14 days prior to embryo transfer and repeated once more (only), as soon as the blood pregnancy test is positive), the anticipated chance of a viable pregnancy occurring within 2 completed IVF attempts (including fresh + frozen ET’s) in women under 39Y (who have normal ovarian reserve) is approximately 80%.
    • Alloimmune Implantation Dysfunction
    o Partial DQ alpha match: IVF patients who have NKa associated with a partial alloimmune implantation dysfunction (DQ alpha match between partners) we use the same IL, infusion as with autoimmune-NKa, only here we prescribe oral prednisone rather than dexamethasone until the 10th week of pregnancy and IL infusions are repeated every 2-4 weeks following the chemical diagnosis of pregnancy until the 24th week. Additionally, (as alluded to elsewhere) in such cases we transfer only a single embryo at a time. This is because in such cases, the likelihood is that one out of two embryos will “match” and we are fearful that if we transfer >1 embryo, and one transferred embryos “matches” it could cause further activation of uterine NK cells and so prejudice the implantation of all transferred embryos. Since we presently have no way of determining which embryo carries the matching paternal DQ alpha gene and thus would transfer only one embryo at a time, it follows that the anticipated viable pregnancy rate per cycle will be much lower than with autoimmune implantation dysfunction. It also follows the only way to improve success with a single embryo being transferred would be to perform PGS on the embryos in advance of ET and then selectively transfer a “chromosomally normal-euploid (“competent”) embryos.
    o Total (complete) DQ alpha Match: In cases where the partners have a total alloimmune (DQ alpha) match with accompanying NKa the chance of a viable pregnancy occurring or (if it does) resulting in a live birth at term, is so small as to be an indication for using a non-matching sperm donor or resorting to gestational surrogacy would in our opinion be preferable by far.
    Contra-Indications and Cautions with Intralipid Infusion:
    IL is only contraindicated in conditions associated with severely disordered fat metabolism (e.g. severe liver damage, acute myocardial infarction and shock,
    Rarely, hypersensitivity has been observed in patients allergic to soybean protein, egg yolk and egg whites and where fat metabolism may be disturbed (e.g. renal insufficiency, uncontrolled diabetes, certain metabolic disorders and in cases oif severe infection (sepsis) sepsis
    Adverse Reactions During Infusions of IL (rare):
    Adverse reactions (rare) reported to occur during and/or following infusion of Intralipid include: transient fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, headache, back or chest pain with dyspnea and cyanosis.
    In cases of verified or suspected liver insufficiency, liver function must be closely followed. If increased levels of transaminases, alkaline phosphatases or bilirubin appear, infusion of Intralipid should be withheld or postponed, until normalization is achieved.

    Very rare cases of hypersensitivity have been observed in patients allergic to soybean protein, egg yolk and egg whites.

    Fat metabolism may be disturbed in conditions such as renal insufficiency, uncompensated diabetes, certain forms of liver insufficiency, metabolic disorders and sepsis.

    Administration:
    The drip rate is adjusted to 500 ml of a 20% solution should be infused over about 3 hours. The infusion should be started at half the infusion rate during the first 30 minutes, under supervision.

    Good luck!

    Geoff Sher

  • Sarah - October 24, 2016 reply

    What if the administration of IL and prednisone does not prevent early pregnancy loss? Does this mean that form of treatment does not work for that patient and the Nka cells are resistant to be down regulated? Would there be any other course of action/treatment for future pregnancies?

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - October 24, 2016 reply

    No! It could be due to some other factor such as genetic embryo incompetency or technical issues with ET, etc.

    Geoff Sher

  • Jana - October 2, 2016 reply

    Thank you very much for all your helpful information. I will be undergoing my second IVF attempt (first FET) in December after my first failed in August. I have Lupus and Hashimotos, so we will be treating for Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction this time around and I am wondering why you use Dexamethosone instead of prednisone? My doctor prescribed me Pred, Xanax and Intralipid. Thanks again!

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - October 3, 2016 reply

    Prednisone can supplant Dexamethasone.

    Good luck!

    Geoff Sher

    Jana - October 3, 2016 reply

    Ok Thank you!

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - October 3, 2016 reply

    You are very welcome!

    Geoff Sher

  • Nicole Parker - August 28, 2016 reply

    Dr Sher
    I’ve heard that IL raises cytokines so is contraindicated with anyone with high cytokines. My cytokines are 55 and NKa is 30.5% which are both high. Based on this, am I not a candidate for IL?

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - August 29, 2016 reply

    Absolutely not true.You are the very type of patient whom would likely benefit from IL/steroid therapy.

    Geoff Sher

  • Heather - August 2, 2016 reply

    Hi Dr Sher
    I have enjoyed your research and blogs over the years of my infertility journey.

    I am 39yo with one son from an IUI 8 years ago. I have never been given any sort of diagnosis which explains my infertility other than not ovulating regularly without medical assistance. I have had every test under the sun and they always come back normal! Good but frustrating too. I tried IUI again 6 years later and had 3 failed attempts. We then moved to IVF with ICSI and PGS. I had 2 separate genetically normal day 5 blasts transferred (one embryo each time) and both attempts ended with chemical pregnancies at week 5 and 6. My lining was always over 9 and it was an ultrasound-guided transfer.
    My research would suggest a possible implantation disorder of some sort. I am trying to decide whether or not to continue our quest or are we wasting money and emotions! What tests would you suggest us to undergo and what would each test be looking for? At what point do you recommend couples moving to surrogates or donor eggs? I would prefer to carry my own child but not sure that is possible since I have not been given any cause for these repeated failures so that I can correct and change something for futures attempts.
    Thanks for your advice regarding the next steps I should attempt or questions/tests I need to complete.

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - August 2, 2016 reply

    If this is an implantation issue (which I agree, could well be the case), using an egg donor wont help any. And what is more, if the cause can be defined and addressed, you probably wont need a GS either. I really think we should talk.

    Whenever a patient fails to achieve a viable pregnancy following embryo transfer (ET), the first question asked is why! Was it simply due to, bad luck?, How likely is the failure to recur in future attempts and what can be done differently, to avoid it happening next time?.
    It is an indisputable fact that any IVF procedure is at least as likely to fail as it is to succeed. Thus when it comes to outcome, luck is an undeniable factor. Notwithstanding, it is incumbent upon the treating physician to carefully consider and address the causes of IVF failure before proceeding to another attempt:
    1. Age: The chance of a woman under 35Y of age having a baby per embryo transfer is about 35-40%. From there it declines progressively to under 5% by the time she reaches her mid-forties. This is largely due to declining chromosomal integrity of the eggs with advancing age…”a wear and tear effect” on eggs that are in the ovaries from birth.
    2. Embryo Quality/”competency (capable of propagating a viable pregnancy)”. As stated, the woman’s age plays a big role in determining egg/embryo quality/”competency”. This having been said, aside from age the protocol used for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) is the next most important factor. It is especially important when it comes to older women, and women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) where it becomes essential to be aggressive, and to customize and individualize the ovarian stimulation protocol.
    We used to believe that the uterine environment is more beneficial to embryo development than is the incubator/petri dish and that accordingly, the earlier on in development that embryos are transferred to the uterus, the better. To achieve this goal, we used to select embryos for transfer based upon their day two or microscopic appearance (“grade”). But we have since learned that the further an embryo has advanced in its development, the more likely it is to be “competent” and that embryos failing to reach the expanded blastocyst stage within 5-6 days of being fertilized are almost invariably “incompetent” and are unworthy of being transferred. Moreover, the introduction into clinical practice about a decade ago, (by Levent Keskintepe PhD and myself) of Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS), which assesses for the presence of all the embryos chromosomes (complete chromosomal karyotyping), provides another tool by which to select the most “competent” embryos for transfer. This methodology has selective benefit when it comes to older women, women with DOR, cases of unexplained repeated IVF failure and women who experience recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL).
    3. The number of the embryos transferred: Most patients believe that the more embryos transferred the greater the chance of success. To some extent this might be true, but if the problem lies with the use of a suboptimal COS protocol, transferring more embryos at a time won’t improve the chance of success. Nor will the transfer of a greater number of embryos solve an underlying embryo implantation dysfunction (anatomical molecular or immunologic).Moreover, the transfer of multiple embryos, should they implant, can and all too often does result in triplets or greater (high order multiples) which increases the incidence of maternal pregnancy-induced complications and of premature delivery with its serious risks to the newborn. It is for this reason that I rarely recommend the transfer of more than 2 embryos at a time and am moving in the direction of advising single embryo transfers …especially when it comes to transferring embryos derived through the fertilization of eggs from young women.
    4. Implantation Dysfunction (ID): Implantation dysfunction is a very common (often overlooked) cause of “unexplained” IVF failure. This is especially the case in young ovulating women who have normal ovarian reserve and have fertile partners. Failure to identify, typify, and address such issues is, in my opinion, an unfortunate and relatively common cause of repeated IVF failure in such women. Common sense dictates that if ultrasound guided embryo transfer is performed competently and yet repeated IVF attempts fail to propagate a viable pregnancy, implantation dysfunction must be seriously considered. Yet ID is probably the most overlooked factor. The most common causes of implantation dysfunction are:
    a. A“ thin uterine lining”
    b. A uterus with surface lesions in the cavity (polyps, fibroids, scar tissue)
    c. Immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID)
    d. Endocrine/molecular endometrial receptivity issues
    Certain causes of infertility are repetitive and thus cannot readily be reversed. Examples include advanced age of the woman; severe male infertility; immunologic infertility associated with alloimmune implantation dysfunction (especially if it is a “complete DQ alpha genetic match between partners plus uterine natural killer cell activation (NKa).
    My answer to patients who ask me when is the time to stop undergoing IVF is ….Aside from the weight of the financial burden, the time to stop is when in spite of thorough and comprehensive evaluation, there is no remediable and treatable explanation for repeated failure.

    I strongly recommend that you visit http://www.DrGeoffreySherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select. Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.
    • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
    • IVF: Factors Affecting Egg/Embryo “competency” during Controlled Ovarian Stimulation(COS)
    • The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success
    • Ovarian Stimulation for IVF using GnRH Antagonists: Comparing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol.(A/ACP) With the“Conventional” Antagonist Aproach
    • Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
    • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
    • IVF Failure and Implantation Dysfunction:
    • The Role of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 1-Background
    • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 2- Making a Diagnosis
    • Immunologic Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 3-Treatment
    • Thyroid autoantibodies and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
    • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction: Importance of Meticulous Evaluation and Strategic Management:(Case Report
    • Intralipid and IVIG therapy: Understanding the Basis for its use in the Treatment of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
    • Intralipid (IL) Administration in IVF: It’s Composition; How it Works; Administration; Side-effects; Reactions and Precautions
    • Natural Killer Cell Activation (NKa) and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction in IVF: The Controversy!
    • Endometrial Thickness, Uterine Pathology and Immunologic Factors
    • Vaginally Administered Viagra is Often a Highly Effective Treatment to Help Thicken a Thin Uterine Lining
    • Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
    • Traveling for IVF from Out of State/Country–
    • A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF

    Please call or email Julie Dahan, my patient concierge. She will guide you on how to set up an in-person or Skype consultation with me. You can reach Julie at on her cell phone or via email at any time:
    Julie Dahan
    • Email: Julied@sherivf.com
    • Phone: 702-533-2691
     800-780-7437

    Geoff Sher

    I also suggest that you access the 4th edition of my book ,”In Vitro Fertilization, the ART of Making Babies”. It is available as a down-load through http://www.Amazon.com or from most bookstores and public libraries.

  • Michele van Gorder - July 30, 2016 reply

    Hi Dr Sher,
    I am 32 and have had one successful pregnancy from my first IVF cycle. My second frozen embryo was transferred and ended in a chemical pregnancy at 5 weeks. We embarked upon IVF again since that second embryo was my last and obtained 3 frozen genetically normal embryos. I was given repeat pregnancy loss testing and it was determined that I neither have an immunologic disorder nor a clotting disorder. My RE did however have me do an IL infusion before my first FET of my second IVF. I was infused only 3 days before my FET. I just found out today that my embryo did not take. Was my lipid transfusion to late to be effective? Where is the research on IL infusions? Was the late administration why my embryo didn’t take even though all my labs came back negative for immunologic dysfunction? Is it possible to have immunologic dysfunction if I have had one healthy IVF pregnancy already?

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - July 30, 2016 reply

    Hi Michelle,
    YES…in my opinion the IL infusion was given too late but I do not agree vwith treatment until a cause is defined. I would like to review the immunologic tests that were done as well.
    I think we should talk.

    I strongly recommend that you visit http://www.DrGeoffreySherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select. Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.
    • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
    • IVF: Factors Affecting Egg/Embryo “competency” during Controlled Ovarian Stimulation(COS)
    • The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success
    • Ovarian Stimulation for IVF using GnRH Antagonists: Comparing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol.(A/ACP) With the“Conventional” Antagonist Aproach
    • Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL): Why do I keep losing my Pregnancies
    • The Role of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 1-Background
    • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 2- Making a Diagnosis
    • Immunologic Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 3-Treatment
    • Thyroid autoantibodies and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
    • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction: Importance of Meticulous Evaluation and Strategic Management:(Case Report
    • Intralipid and IVIG therapy: Understanding the Basis for its use in the Treatment of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
    • Intralipid (IL) Administration in IVF: It’s Composition; How it Works; Administration; Side-effects; Reactions and Precautions
    • Natural Killer Cell Activation (NKa) and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction in IVF: The Controversy!
    • Endometrial Thickness, Uterine Pathology and Immunologic Factors
    • Vaginally Administered Viagra is Often a Highly Effective Treatment to Help Thicken a Thin Uterine Lining
    • Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
    • Traveling for IVF from Out of State/Country–
    • A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
    • How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF.
    • The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF
    • Why did my IVF fail?

    Please call or email Julie Dahan, my patient concierge. She will guide you on how to set up an in-person or Skype consultation with me. You can reach Julie at on her cell phone or via email at any time:
    Julie Dahan
    • Email: Julied@sherivf.com
    • Phone: 702-533-2691
     800-780-7437

    Geoff Sher

    I also suggest that you access the 4th edition of my book ,”In Vitro Fertilization, the ART of Making Babies”. It is available as a down-load through http://www.Amazon.com or from most bookstores and public libraries.

  • A.M. - July 21, 2016 reply

    Hello Dr. Sher,

    I’ve read some of your blogs regarding intralipid treatment. I just want to get clarification. My NKa results show no suppression with intralipid treatments but show suppression with Ivig. You say this info is inaccurate, right? Is this all due to the timing allowed that the intralipids/ivig interacts with the NKa? Why is that NKa suppress with Ivig and not Intralipids if both treatments are given at the same time with a blood sample?

    Have patients whos test results read no suppression with intralipids, had successful pregnancies with intralipid treatment?

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - July 22, 2016 reply

    It is totally subjective. The in Vitro testing in my opinion has little (if any) merit at all.

    Intralipid (IL) is a solution of small lipid droplets suspended in water. When administered intravenously, IL provides essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. It is made up of 20% soybean oil/fatty acids (comprising linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, linolenic acid and stearic acid), 1.2% egg yolk phospholipids (1.2%), glycerin (2.25%) and water (76.5%).
    Possible Mode of Action:
    It is thought that fatty acids within the emulsion serve as ligands to activate peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) expressed by the NK cells. This is believed to decrease NK cytotoxic activity, and thereby enhance implantation A growing number of IVF programs, including ours, perform egg retrieval under conscious sedation using Propofol, a short acting hypnotic agent. Interestingly, similar to Intralipid 1% Propofol also contains the same concentration of soybean oil, and purified egg phospholipid, with glycerin. Perhaps its use offers a fringe benefit in cases of immunologic implantation dysfunction.
    Whatever the exact mechanism of action might be, IL exerts a modulating effect on certain immune cellular mechanisms largely by down-regulating cytotoxic /activated natural killer cells (NKa). This effect is enhanced through the concomitant administration of corticosteroids such as dexamethasone, prednisolone and prednisone which in my opinion do so by immune modulation of T cells . The combined effect of IL + steroid therapy is thought to suppresses pro-inflammatory cellular (Type-1) cytokines such as interferon gamma and TNF-alpha, produced in excess by activated NK cells and cytotoxic T cells.
    IL will in about 80% of cases, successfully down-regulats activated natural killer cells (NKa) within 2-3 weeks. In this regard it is likely to be just as effective as IVIg but at a fraction of the cost and with a far lower incidence of side-effects. Its effect lasts for 4-9 weeks when administered in early pregnancy.
    Can in-vitro (laboratory) tests assess for an immediate benefit of IL on Nka?
    Since the down-regulation of NKa through IL (or IVIg) therapy can take several weeks to become detectable, it follows that there is really no benefit in trying to assess the potential efficacy of such treatment by retesting NKa in the laboratory after adding IL (or IVIg) to the cells being tested.
    Treatment of NKa Using IL:
    • Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction: When it comes to NKa in IVF cases complicated by autoimmune implantation dysfunction, the combination of daily oral dexamethasone commencing with the onset of ovarian stimulation and continuing until the 10th week of pregnancy, combined with an initial infusion of IL (100ml, 20% Il dissolved in 500cc of saline solution, 10-14 days prior to embryo transfer and repeated once more (only), as soon as the blood pregnancy test is positive), the anticipated chance of a viable pregnancy occurring within 2 completed IVF attempts (including fresh + frozen ET’s) in women under 39Y (who have normal ovarian reserve) is approximately 80%.
    • Alloimmune Implantation Dysfunction
    o Partial DQ alpha match: IVF patients who have NKa associated with a partial alloimmune implantation dysfunction (DQ alpha match between partners) we use the same IL, infusion as with autoimmune-NKa, only here we prescribe oral prednisone rather than dexamethasone until the 10th week of pregnancy and IL infusions are repeated every 2-4 weeks following the chemical diagnosis of pregnancy until the 24th week. Additionally, (as alluded to elsewhere) in such cases we transfer only a single embryo at a time. This is because in such cases, the likelihood is that one out of two embryos will “match” and we are fearful that if we transfer >1 embryo, and one transferred embryos “matches” it could cause further activation of uterine NK cells and so prejudice the implantation of all transferred embryos. Since we presently have no way of determining which embryo carries the matching paternal DQ alpha gene and thus would transfer only one embryo at a time, it follows that the anticipated viable pregnancy rate per cycle will be much lower than with autoimmune implantation dysfunction. It also follows the only way to improve success with a single embryo being transferred would be to perform PGS on the embryos in advance of ET and then selectively transfer a “chromosomally normal-euploid (“competent”) embryos.
    o Total (complete) DQ alpha Match: In cases where the partners have a total alloimmune (DQ alpha) match with accompanying NKa the chance of a viable pregnancy occurring or (if it does) resulting in a live birth at term, is so small as to be an indication for using a non-matching sperm donor or resorting to gestational surrogacy would in our opinion be preferable by far.
    Contra-Indications and Cautions with Intralipid Infusion:
    IL is only contraindicated in conditions associated with severely disordered fat metabolism (e.g. severe liver damage, acute myocardial infarction and shock,
    Rarely, hypersensitivity has been observed in patients allergic to soybean protein, egg yolk and egg whites and where fat metabolism may be disturbed (e.g. renal insufficiency, uncontrolled diabetes, certain metabolic disorders and in cases oif severe infection (sepsis) sepsis
    Adverse Reactions During Infusions of IL (rare):
    Adverse reactions (rare) reported to occur during and/or following infusion of Intralipid include: transient fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, headache, back or chest pain with dyspnea and cyanosis.
    In cases of verified or suspected liver insufficiency, liver function must be closely followed. If increased levels of transaminases, alkaline phosphatases or bilirubin appear, infusion of Intralipid should be withheld or postponed, until normalization is achieved.

    Very rare cases of hypersensitivity have been observed in patients allergic to soybean protein, egg yolk and egg whites.

    Fat metabolism may be disturbed in conditions such as renal insufficiency, uncompensated diabetes, certain forms of liver insufficiency, metabolic disorders and sepsis.

    Administration:
    The drip rate is adjusted to 500 ml of a 20% solution should be infused over about 3 hours. The infusion should be started at half the infusion rate during the first 30 minutes, under supervision.

    Geoff Sher

  • Claire - July 20, 2016 reply

    Hi Dr Sher ! Thank you so much for you continued support of education and awareness of the many issues & topics you cover in your blog – we’re very lucky to have you !
    With regards to Intralipid therapy detailed above ; would you clarify why ‘only’ two infusions are recommended for Autoimmune implantation dysfunction as opposed to monthly treatments with other immune diagnoses ?
    We are almost 8 weeks after our 5d FET – I had one infusion 12 days prior to transfer, and a second at 13 days post transfer – we’re trying to decide how to proceed (I’m on 15mg of Prednisone daily as well) last HCG was 120,000. at 7 weeks.
    (no uterine NK cell diagnosis was made – just RPL with no diagnosis)
    Thank you in advance for any clarification you could offer : )

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - July 20, 2016 reply

    Two IL infusions carries you through the 1st trimester and for autoimmune implantation dysfunction, that appears to be enough to protect against embryo rejection. For alloimmune implantation dysfunction it may take longer so we continue intermittent infusions through the 24th week…just for a cushion…to be safe. But frankly I am not even certain that such prolonged treatment is necessary.

    Geoff Sher

    Claire - July 21, 2016 reply

    Great to know – Thanks for taking the time to reply Dr. Sher : )

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher

    Dr. Geoffrey Sher - July 21, 2016 reply

    You are welcome!

    Geoff Sher

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