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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Aug;84(8):2638-46.

Coculture of human embryos with autologous human endometrial epithelial cells in patients with implantation failure.

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  • 1Instituto Valenciano de Infertilidad, Department of Pediatrics, Valencia University School of Medicine, Spain.


We have developed a coculture system with autologous human endometrial epithelial cells (AEEC) that retained many features of human endometrial epithelium. Implantation failure (IF; >3 previous cycles failed with 3-4 good quality embryos transferred) is a distressing condition in which 2-day embryo transfer repetition is the routine option. The objective of this study was to investigate the basics and to evaluate prospectively the clinical value of embryo coculture on AEEC and blastocyst transfer with their own oocytes [in vitro fertilization (IVF) patients] or with donated oocytes (oocyte donation patients) compared to a routine day 2 embryo transfer for patients with IF. Scanning electron microscopy and mouse embryo assays demonstrate that EEC from fertile and IF patients were morphologically and functionally similar; similar findings were observed in EEC obtained from fresh or frozen endometria. Clinically, 168 IVF cycles were performed in 127 patients with 3.8+/-0.2 previously failed cycles, and 80 cycles were performed in 57 patients undergoing oocyte donation with 3.0+/-0.2 previously failed cycles. Twenty IVF patients and 15 ovum donation patients with 3 previously failed cycles in whom a 2-day embryo transfer was performed were used as controls. In 88% of ovum donation cycles, at least 2 blastocysts were available for transfer, with 60.1% blastocyst formation; 2.2+/-0.1 blastocysts were transferred/cycle, and 36 pregnancies (determined by fetal cardiac activity) were obtained (32.7% implantation and 54.5% pregnancy rates). In 168 IVF cycles, 8.1+/-0.2 embryos/cycle started coculture, resulting in 49.2% blastocyst formation; 2.3+/-0.2 blastocysts were transferred/cycle, and 29 clinical pregnancies were obtained (11.8% implantation and 20.2% pregnancy rates). Fifteen cycles were canceled (9%). In oocyte donation patients with IF undergoing 2-day embryo transfer, implantation and pregnancy rates were significantly lower (4.5% and 13.3%; P < 0.01) than with coculture; however, in IVF patients with IF, results with day 2 transfer (10.7% and 35%) were similar to those with coculture. The present study demonstrates that coculture of human embryos with AEEC and blastocyst transfer is safe, ethical, and effective and constitutes a new approach to improve implantation in patients with IF undergoing ovum donation, but not in IVF patients.

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