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Clomiphene citrate administered in peri-conception phase causes fetal loss and developmental impairment in mice.

Endocrinology 2024 April 13
Clomiphene citrate is a common treatment for ovulation induction in subfertile women, but its use is associated with elevated risk of adverse perinatal outcomes and birth defects. To investigate the biological plausibility of a causal relationship, this study investigated in mice the consequences for fetal development and pregnancy outcome of peri-conception clomiphene citrate administration at doses approximating human exposures. A dose-dependent adverse effect of clomiphene citrate given twice in the 36 h after mating was seen, with a moderate dose of 0.75 mg/kg sufficient to cause altered reproductive outcomes in three independent cohorts. Viable pregnancy was reduced by 30%, late gestation fetal weight was reduced by 16%, and ∼30% of fetuses exhibited delayed development and/or congenital abnormalities not seen in control dams, including defects of the lung, kidney, liver, eye, skin, limbs, and umbilicus. Clomiphene citrate also caused a 30 h average delay in time of birth, and elevated rate of pup death in the early postnatal phase. In surviving offspring, growth trajectory tracking and body morphometry analysis at 20 weeks of age showed post-weaning growth and development comparable to controls. A dysregulated inflammatory response in the endometrium was observed and may contribute to the underlying pathophysiological mechanism. These results demonstrate that in utero exposure to clomiphene citrate during early pregnancy can inhibit implantation and impact fetal growth and development, causing adverse perinatal outcomes. The findings raise the prospect of similar iatrogenic effects in women where clomiphene citrate may be present in the peri-conception phase unless its use is well-supervised.

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