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Hum Reprod. 2015 Sep;30(9):2076-83. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dev178. Epub 2015 Jul 22.

Preliminary trials of a specific gravity technique in the determination of early embryo growth potential†.

Author information

1
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX 79430, USA Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79430, USA samuel.prien@ttuhsc.edu.
2
Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79430, USA.
3
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX 79430, USA.

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION:

Can a modified specific gravity technique be used to distinguish viable from nonviable embryos?

SUMMARY ANSWER:

Preliminary data suggests a modified specific gravity technique can be used to determine embryo viability and potential for future development.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY:

Single embryo transfer (SET) is fast becoming the standard of practice. However, there is currently no reliable method to ensure development of the embryo transferred.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION:

A preliminary, animal-based in vitro study of specific gravity as a predictor of embryo development using a mouse model.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS:

After a brief study to demonstrate embryo recovery, experiments were conducted to assess the ability of the specific gravity system (SGS) to distinguish between viable and nonviable embryos. In the first study, 1-cell mouse embryos were exposed to the SGS with or without previous exposure to an extreme heat source (60°C); measurements were repeated daily for 5 days. In the second experiment, larger pools of 1-cell embryos were either placed directly in culture or passed through the SGS and then placed in culture and monitored for 4 days.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE:

In the first experiment, viable embryos demonstrated a predictable pattern of descent time over the first 48 h of development (similar to previous experience with the SGS), while embryos that were heat killed demonstrated significantly altered drop patterns (P < 0.001); first descending faster. In the second experiment, average descent times were different for embryos that stalled early versus those that developed to blastocyst (P < 0.001). Interestingly, more embryos dropped through the SGS developed to blastocyst than the culture control (P < 0.01).

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION:

As this is a preliminary report of the SGS technology determining viability, a larger embryo population will be needed. Further, the current in vitro study will need to be followed by fecundity studies prior to application to a human population.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS:

If proven, the SGS would provide a noninvasive means of assessing embryos prior to transfer after assisted reproductive technologies procedures, thereby improving fecundity and allowing more reliable SET.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS:

The authors gratefully acknowledge the funding support of the U.S. Jersey Association, the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women's Health and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant through the Undergraduate Science Education Program to Texas Tech University. None of the authors have any conflict of interest regarding this work.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER:

none.

KEYWORDS:

blastocyst; buoyance; embryo development; embryo selection; embryo viability; noninvasive; specific gravity; zygote

PMID:
26202920
PMCID:
PMC4542720
DOI:
10.1093/humrep/dev178
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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