Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Suspect and non-target screening of ovarian follicular fluid and serum - identification of anthropogenic chemicals and investigation of their association to fertility

Hallberg, Ida; Plassmann, Merle; Olovsson, Matts; Holte, Jan; Damdimopoulou, Pauliina; Sjunnesson, Ylva C. B.; Benskin, Jonathan P.; Persson, Sara


In this work, ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-high resolution (Orbitrap) mass spectrometry-based suspect and non-target screening was applied to follicular fluid (n = 161) and serum (n = 116) from women undergoing in vitro fertilization in order to identify substances that may be associated with decreased fertility. Detected features were prioritized for identification based on (i) hazard/exposure scores in a database of chemicals on the Swedish market and an in-house database on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); (ii) enrichment in follicular fluid relative to serum; and (iii) association with treatment outcomes. Non-target screening detected 20 644 features in follicular fluid and 13 740 in serum. Two hundred and sixty-two features accumulated in follicular fluid (follicular fluid: serum ratio >20) and another 252 features were associated with embryo quality. Standards were used to confirm the identities of 21 compounds, including 11 PFAS. 6-Hydroxyindole was associated with lower embryo quality and 4-aminophenol was associated with higher embryo quality. Overall, we show the complexity of follicular fluid and the applicability of suspect and non-target screening for discovering both anthropogenic and endogenous substances, which may play a role in fertility in women.

Published in

Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts
2021, volume: 23, number: 10, pages: 1578-1588

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Plassmann, Merle
Stockholm University
Olovsson, Matts
Uppsala University
Holte, Jan
Uppsala University
Damdimopoulou, Pauliina
Karolinska University Hospital
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Benskin, Jonathan P.
Stockholm University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)