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Growth and viability of human blastocysts in vitro

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 February 2001

GM Jones
Affiliation:
Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development, Monash University, Australia
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Abstract

The transfer of a blastocyst established the first human clinical pregnancy following in vitro fertilization (IVF). Nine years later Cohen et al. reported pregnancies resulting from the transfer of cryopreserved human blastocysts. However, it was another six years before the first report of births resulting from the transfer of human blastocysts produced in vitro appeared in the medical literature. In the intervening period clinics have opted to transfer embryos at the early cleavage stage to the uterus, despite the fact that in vivo the embryo does not enter the uterus until two to three days later at the morula to blastocyst stage of development. The viability and potential for implantation of blastocysts is high, as indicated by the finding that more than 60% of in-vivo-derived blastocysts, recovered by uterine lavage following artificial insemination of fertile donors, implant and develop into viable fetuses when transferred to recipients. This is in stark contrast to the 10–20% of in-vitro-produced embryos transferred at the early cleavage stage of development that result in a live-birth. This reduction in viability following transfer of in-vitro-derived early cleavage stage embryos may have several possible explanations: (1) a failure of implantation due to poor synchronization between the embryo and the uterine endometrium; (2) a hostile environment in the uterus for early cleavage stage embryos; (3) sub-optimal in vitro culture conditions which result in a reduction in embryo viability; (4) the assumption that all oocytes retrieved in an IVF cycle have an equal ability to develop into viable embryos; and (5) the failure to identify the most viable embryo in a cohort. Certainly, improving culture conditions and laboratory techniques for developing high quality blastocysts routinely in vitro will not only address many of the above questions but will also improve the quality and viability of earlier stages of embryo development.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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