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Hum Reprod. 2004 Oct;19(10):2319-24. Epub 2004 Aug 6.

Identification of viable embryos in IVF by non-invasive measurement of amino acid turnover.

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Department of Reproductive Medicine, St Mary's Hospital, Manchester M13 OJH, UK.



IVF is limited by low success rates and an unacceptably high multiple pregnancy rate. These outcomes would be improved significantly if a single embryo of high viability could be replaced in each treatment cycle, but widespread acceptance of such a policy is hindered by the lack of predictive factors for embryo selection. We have conducted a retrospective clinical study of a novel non-invasive method of embryo selection based on the depletion/appearance of amino acids in the culture medium.


Fifty-three cycles of IVF treatment using ICSI were studied. Embryos were cultured for 24 h in 4 microl drops of medium containing a physiological mixture of 18 amino acids. The spent medium was analysed for amino acid content by high performance liquid chromatography.


The turnover of three amino acids, Asn, Gly and Leu, was significantly correlated with a clinical pregnancy and live birth. These correlations were independent of known predictors, such as female age, basal levels of FSH, embryo cell number and embryo morphological grade.


Non-invasive assay of amino acid turnover has the potential to improve significantly the prospective selection of the most viable embryos, or single embryo, for replacement in an IVF cycle.

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