Effects of embryo culture media do not persist after implantation: a histological study in mice

Sandra A. Hemkemeyer, Caroline Schwarzer, Michele Boiani, Jens Ehmcke, Severine le Gac, Stefan Schlatt, Verena Nordhoff

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    Is post-implantation embryonic development after blastocyst transfer affected by exposure to different assisted reproduction technology (ART) culture media? Fetal development and placental histology of ART embryos cultured in vitro in different ART media was not impaired compared with embryos grown in vivo. The application of different in vitro culture (IVC) media for human ART has an effect on birthweight of newborns. In the mouse model, differences in blastocyst formation were reported after culture in different ART media. Moreover, abnormalities in the liver and heart have been detected as a result of suboptimal IVC conditions. Fertilized oocytes from inbred and outbred breeding schemes were retrieved and either immediately transferred to foster mothers or incubated in control or human ART culture media up to the blastocyst stage prior to transfer. Placental and fetal anatomy and particularly bone development were evaluated. B6C3F1 female mice were used as oocyte donors after ovulation induction. C57Bl/6 and CD1 males were used for mating and CD1 females as foster mothers for embryo transfer. Fertilized oocytes were recovered from mated females and incubated in sequential human ART media (ISM1/ISM2 and HTF/Multiblast), in control media [KSOM(aa) and Whittens medium] or grown in utero without IVC (zygote control). As in vivo, control B6C3F1 females were superovulated and left untreated. Fetuses and placentae were isolated by Caesarean section and analysed at 18.5 days post-coitum (dpc) for placenta composition and at 15.5 dpc for body weight, crownrump length (CRL), fetal organ development, morphological development, total bone length and extent of bone ossification. No major differences in the number of implantation sites or in histological appearance of the placentae were detected. CRL of KSOM(aa) fetuses was higher compared with zygote control and Whittens medium. Histological analysis of tissue sections revealed no gross morphological differences compared with the in vitro groups or in vivo controls. Furthermore, no changes in skeletal development and degree of ossification were observed. However, fibula and tibia of ISM1/ISM2 fetuses were longer than the respective ones from in vivo fetuses. Findings in the mouse embryo and fetus may not be fully transferable to humans. In addition to skeletal development and placentation, there may be other parameters, e.g. on the molecular level which respond to IVC in ART media. Some comparisons have limited statistical power. Our data suggest that once implantation is achieved, subsequent post-implantation development unfolds normally, resulting in healthy fetuses. With mouse models, we gather information for the safety of human ART culture media. Our mouse study is reassuring for the safety of ART conditions on human embryonic development, given the lack of bold detrimental effects observed in the mouse model
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)220-233
    Number of pages14
    JournalHuman reproduction
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


    • EWI-24881
    • IR-91415
    • METIS-305928

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