Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 September 2008
Evidence of sexual dimorphism before fetal gonadal differentiation in mammals has been accumulating, suggesting that male embryos develop faster than female ones. The current investigation was performed to evaluate whether the development rate of precompacted human embryos is controlled by sex chromosomes. Sex was determined by polymerase chain reaction and fluorescence in situ hybridisation in 172 arrested embryos derived from in vitro fertilisation. The sex ratio (1.02:0.98) did not differ significantly from 1:1. Although more males appeared to have greater fragmentation, the difference between the sex ratios of highly fragmented and normal embryos (1.08:0.92) was not significant. Arrested female embryos had a tendency to exhibit more than five nuclei and less than 10% fragmentation, but the trend was not statistically significant. The current results suggest that the first developmental block in human embryos occurs prior to and shortly after genomic activation and is not determined by the presence of the Y chromosome.