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Mol Hum Reprod. 2009 May;15(5):271-7. doi: 10.1093/molehr/gap012. Epub 2009 Feb 17.

The role of proteomics in defining the human embryonic secretome.

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Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, Lone Tree, CO 80124, USA.


Non-invasive gamete and embryo assessment is considered an important focus in assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Currently, the selection of embryos for transfer is based on morphological indices. Though successful, the field of ART would benefit from a non-invasive quantitative method of viability determination. Omics technologies, including transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics, have already begun providing evidence that viable gametes and embryos possess unique molecular profiles with potential biomarkers that can be utilized for developmental and/or viability selection. Unlike the human genome that is relatively fixed and steady throughout the human body, the human proteome, estimated at over a million proteins, is more complex, diverse and dynamic. It is the proteins themselves that contribute to the physiological homeostasis in any cell or tissue. Of particular interest in ART is the secretome, those proteins that are produced within the embryo and secreted into the surrounding environment. Defining the human embryonic secretome has the potential to expand our knowledge of embryonic cellular processes, including the complex dialogue between the developing embryo and its maternal environment, and may also assist in identifying those embryos with the highest implantation potential. Advances in proteomic technologies have allowed the non-invasive profiling of the human embryonic secretome with ongoing research focused on correlation with outcome. From a clinical perspective, embryo selection based on morphological assessment and non-invasive analysis of the human embryonic secretome may improve IVF success and lead to routine single embryo transfers.

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