Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Human Reproduction - Experimental And Laboratory Aspects

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
3.05.00  Medical sciences  Human reproduction   
1.03.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biology   

Code Science Field
B570  Biomedical sciences  Obstetrics, gynaecology, andrology, reproduction, sexuality 

Code Science Field
3.02  Medical and Health Sciences  Clinical medicine 
1.06  Natural Sciences  Biological sciences 
adenomyosis, genes for endometrial receptivity, endometriosis, STAT signalisation, Treg, embryo culture in hypoxia, artificial blastocyst collapse, vitrification, sperm freezing, sperm oxydative stress, anti-oxydants, urinary bladder smooth muscle cells, electromagnetic field
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Data for the last 5 years (citations for the last 10 years) on December 8, 2023; A3 for period 2017-2021
Data for ARIS tenders ( 04.04.2019 – Programme tender , archive )
Database Linked records Citations Pure citations Average pure citations
WoS  251  2,890  2,696  10.74 
Scopus  207  3,333  3,115  15.05 
Researchers (16)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  14113  PhD Igor But  Human reproduction  Researcher  2020 - 2023  468 
2.  25129  PhD Aleš Goropevšek  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  55 
3.  29934  Nina Hojnik    Technical associate  2020 - 2023  31 
4.  33092  PhD Jure Knez  Human reproduction  Researcher  2020 - 2023  187 
5.  38022  Katja Knez  Public health (occupational safety)  Technical associate  2020 - 2023  17 
6.  15712  Martina Kos  Public health (occupational safety)  Technical associate  2020 - 2023  39 
7.  20136  PhD Vilma Kovač  Human reproduction  Researcher  2020 - 2023  159 
8.  11040  PhD Borut Kovačič  Human reproduction  Head  2020 - 2023  369 
9.  52549  Sandra Martič  Public health (occupational safety)  Technical associate  2020 - 2023 
10.  28993  Jasna Muršič    Technical associate  2020 - 2023 
11.  39084  PhD Erika Prašnikar  Human reproduction  Junior researcher  2020 - 2022  13 
12.  15711  PhD Milan Reljič  Human reproduction  Researcher  2020 - 2023  292 
13.  39816  PhD Tamara Serdinšek  Human reproduction  Researcher  2020 - 2023  175 
14.  54477  Peter Slatinšek  Human reproduction  Technical associate  2020 - 2023 
15.  37828  Marjan Taborin    Technical associate  2020 - 2023  16 
16.  21099  PhD Branka Žegura  Human reproduction  Researcher  2020 - 2023  330 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0334  University Medical Centre Maribor  Maribor  5054150000  23,056 
ABSTRACT The research program is a continuation of laboratory and clinical research related to human reproduction and uroginecology. One part of the research will be focused on identification of genetic and immunological causes of inappropriate endometrial signaling at the time of the implantation window in women with adenomyosis and endometriosis and in female patients with failed IVF cycles. The identification of possible genes with changed expression, typical of the adenomyosis group could explain the molecular cause for changed endometrial receptivity in women with this disease. The study will include 20-30 women with adenomiosys and also a control group. Ultrasound and biopsy of the endometrial sample will be carried out on the 7th day after the LH peak. A part of the biopsy will be used for histological endometrial dating, the second part of the sample will be used to isolate the entire RNA for further genetic analysis. A list of differently expressed genes in adenomyosis group that would be detected by RNAseq method will be further uploaded into bioinformatic tools and their molecular role will be determined by the method of genetic ontology. Immunophenotyping in peripheral blood will be performed with flow cytometry to compare the signalization in FOXP3+ subpopulations in each patient with deep endometriosis and the results will be compared with the control group. Signal pathways will also be monitored in subtypes of FOXP3+ CD4+ T lymphocytes, because it is assumed that changes in these signaling pathways may be in the background of changes in homeostasis and Treg in patients with endometriosis. Treg values and the ratio of their subpopulations will also be identified among patients with successful and unsuccessful IVF outcome and between natural and stimulated IVF cycles. In a prospective randomized study comparing the influence of 2% and 5% oxygen in the atmosphere of embryo culture, the morphokinetics of embryo development and the proportion of clinical pregnancies in both groups of subjects will be compared. A prospective randomized study will also be used to compare the efficacy of two blastocyst vitrification methods: a short-term cryoprotectant protocol for artificially collapsed blastocysts and a longer-equilibration phase protocol for intact blastocysts. For men with severe forms of male infertility, we will develop a method for cryopreservation of small (known) number of spermatozoa. In men with asthenozoospermia, the spermiogram and the proportion of spermatozoa with DNA fragmentation and oxidative reductive potential (ORP) will be assessed. The effectiveness of antioxidant diet with nutritional supplements will be analyzed by comparing spermiogram and semen ORP before and after the antioxidant diet. We will develop our own method of mice bladder tissue slice, and thus we will get a methodology that will serve us for studying the physiology of the bladder and the functioning of new pharmacological agents on smooth muscle cells of the bladder.
Significance for science
The study in patients with adenomyosis and endometriosis will not provide the treatment of these diseases, but will give important findings on their etiology. In our center, the human embryo development in vitro at 5% and at 20% oxygen concentrations in incubators have already been tested. The study was also included in the Cohrane library analysis. The study resulted in numerous comments by experts dealing with the physiology of the female reproductive tract. Furthermore, based on our research findings, embryo incubation at 5% represents a quality standard for human IVF today. According to the research data from the primates, additional oxygen reduction to only 2% could create culture conditions which probably imitates female reproductive trackt conditions even better and could improve the effectiveness of IVF procedures. The vitrification procedure enables a relatively successful cryopreservation of human blastocysts. In spite of some comparative studies, it is not yet confirmed whether blastocysts should be artificially collapsed and the liquid removed from the blastocoel before vitrification. A prospective randomized study comparing the success of vitrification procedures of pre-collapsed and intact blastocysts is therefore necessary. Despite the fact that frozen semen is one of the oldest biotechnological methods in reproductive medicine, the survival of sperm after the thaw is still quite low. The method is especially important for men who often do not have sperm in ejaculates (cryptosoospermia) and those with azoospermia, where individual spermatozoa have to be identified in testicular aspirates or testicular tissue. In these patients, it is uncertain if the spermatozoa will be collected during the IVF procedure. By developing the method of freezing individual spermatozoa, these men would avoid additional surgical treatments. Currently, due to absent sperm, the ICSI procedure is often canceled despite the hormonal therapy received by their partners. The measurement of oxidative reduction potential or oxidative stress in semen has not yet been standardised in andrology. Today, relatively poor therapeutic options are available for most forms of male fertility or infertility associated with a poor spermogram. Often, patients alone or after consultation with an andrologist, decide to take dietary supplements with antioxidants and minerals that could positively contribute to the improvement of spermiogram. Using the test on the oxidative reductive potential in semen, therapists would get an indication for prescribing antioxidants. It would also be possible to compare the effectiveness of antioxidants with one another. The research aims to deepen the knowledge and understanding of bladder physiology. Our own method of mice bladder tissue slice will be developed, and thus we will get a methodology that will serve us for studying the physiology of the bladder and the functioning of new pharmacological agents on smooth muscle cells of the bladder.
Significance for the country
Because of poor knowledge of the aetiology of adenomyosis and endometriosis and their effects on fertility, the treatment of patients with these diseases is still problematic. Knowing the reasons for lower treatment effectiveness in this group might help to find alternative pathways, more appropriate from the psychological or socioeconomic point of view. Finding additional factors with potentially positive effects on the vitality and development of gametes and embryos in vitro can improve the effectiveness of infertility treatment with ART, which has a beneficial socio-economic effect. The investigation of oxidative stress in semen can rationalize the use of expensive nutritional antioxidant supplements, which do not have real indications and proven effectiveness for improving the quality of semen. Research findings will be presented at international congresses and in respective international and national scientific and professional journals and will contribute to reputation of Slovenian research. With prospective randomized clinical studies, which are usually included in meta-analyses, we will get the opportunity to participate in the validation of clinical methods. Publications and invited lectures will enhance the reputation of members of the research program group, the agency that finances the program and the Republic of Slovenia. Based on the results of these research, we consider that the members of the program group will be included in international working groups on the development of expert guidelines and recommendations, as has already been in the past. PhD students are also included in the research program. This way, the knowledge will be spread and the qualifications of staff for research and development will be increased. Knowledge will also spread through the organization of scientific meetings, congresses and workshops, where the results of the program group will be presented.
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