In vitro development of donated frozen thawed human embryos in a prototype static microfluidic device A randomized controlled trial

This study shows that a microfluidic device tested under static conditions supports single-embryo culture of donated frozen-thawed human day-4 embryos to advanced blastocyst stages.


Dorit C. Kieslinger, M.Sc., Zhenxia Hao, Ph.D., Carlijn G. Vergouw, Ph.D., Elisabeth H. Kostelijk, Ph.D., Cornelis B. Lambalk, Ph.D., Séverine Le Gac, Ph.D.

Volume 103, Issue 3, Pages 680-686



To compare the development of human embryos in microfluidic devices with culture in standard microdrop dishes, both under static conditions.


Prospective randomized controlled trial.


In vitro fertilization laboratory.


118 donated frozen-thawed human day-4 embryos.


Random allocation of embryos that fulfilled the inclusion criteria to single-embryo culture in a microfluidics device (n = 58) or standard microdrop dish (n = 60).

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Blastocyst formation rate and quality after 24, 28, 48, and 72 hours of culture.


The percentage of frozen-thawed day-4 embryos that developed to the blastocyst stage did not differ significantly in the standard microdrop dishes and microfluidic devices after 28 hours of culture (53.3% vs. 58.6%) or at any of the other time points. The proportion of embryos that would have been suitable for embryo transfer was comparable after 28 hours of culture in the control dishes and microfluidic devices (90.0% vs. 93.1%). Furthermore, blastocyst quality was similar in the two study groups.


This study shows that a microfluidic device can successfully support human blastocyst development in vitro under static culture conditions. Future studies need to clarify whether earlier stage embryos will benefit from the culture in microfluidic devices more than the tested day-4 embryos because many important steps in the development of human embryos already take place before day 4. Further improvements of the microfluidic device will include parallel culture of single embryos, application of medium refreshment, and built-in sensors.

Dutch Trial Registration Number:


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