Differential impacts of gonadotrophins, IVF and embryo culture on mouse blastocyst development

Miaoxin Chen, Siew L. Wong, Linda L. Wu, Yasmyn E. Gordon, Leonie Heilbronn, Rebecca L. Robker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Research question: Conception via assisted reproductive technology (ART) increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Underlying differences between ART-conceived and in-vivo-conceived embryos that contribute to this increased risk are, however, not known. Design: This study examined the developmental characteristics of mouse blastocysts derived from ART- compared with in-vivo-conceived embryos. To determine the effect of ovarian stimulation versus IVF versus in-vitro embryo culture on phenotype, six distinct groups of blastocysts were generated. Female mice were naturally cycling or treated with high or mild doses of gonadotrophin, followed by natural mating or IVF under clinical conditions. Embryo morphokinetics were assessed by continuous time-lapse monitoring. Cell lineage allocation to the inner cell mass (Oct4+) or trophectoderm (Cdx2+) was determined by immunohistochemistry, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number was measured by quantitative PCR. Results: Ovarian stimulation increased embryo number but reduced the percentage of blastocysts. Morphokinetic analysis showed that gonadotrophin treatment led to advanced development (P < 0.05) due to earlier post-pronuclear breakdown. The blastocyst rate was reduced in IVF embryos compared with those fertilized in vivo before culture (P < 0.001). Morphokinetics showed that embryo development was slower in all the IVF groups (P < <0.05), due to a delay from the 3-cell stage. A reduced total and trophectoderm cell number was observed in all groups of cultured blastocysts compared with naturally conceived blastocysts (P < 0.01). Gonadotrophin treatment did not affect the blastocyst mtDNA copy number; however, IVF embryos exhibited reduced mtDNA copy number compared with naturally conceived embryos. Conclusion: Ovarian stimulation, IVF and in-vitro culture differentially impair blastocyst developmental kinetics, differentiation and mtDNA copy number.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-382
Number of pages11
JournalReproductive BioMedicine Online
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Development
  • Inner cell mass
  • Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)
  • Ovarian stimulation
  • Time-lapse morphokinetics
  • Trophectoderm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Developmental Biology

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