Do frozen embryo transfers modify the epigenetic control of imprinted genes and transposable elements in newborns compared with fresh embryo transfers and natural conceptions?

We observed epigenetic dysregulations, mostly in placental tissue, after reproductive procedures associated with controlled ovarian stimulation.

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VOLUME 116, ISSUE 6, P1468-1480


Julie Barberet, Pharm.D., Gaelle Romain, Ph.D., Christine Binquet, M.D., Ph.D., Magali Guilleman, Céline Bruno, M.D., Ph.D., Perrine Ginod, M.D., Caroline Chapusot, Ph.D., Cécile Choux, M.D., Ph.D., Patricia Fauque, M.D., Ph.D. 



To determine whether the epigenetic control of imprinted genes (IGs) and transposable elements (TEs) differs at birth between fresh or frozen embryo transfers and natural conceptions.


Prospective study.


University hospital.


A total of 202 singleton births were divided into three groups: 84 natural pregnancies (controls), 66 in vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection with fresh embryo transfers, and 52 vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection with frozen embryo transfers.



Main Outcome Measure(s)

Pyrosequencing was used to assess the DNA methylation profiles of three IGs (H19/IGF2:IG-DMR [two sequences], KCNQ1OT1:TSS-DMR, and SNURF:TSS-DMR) and two TEs (LINE-1 and HERV-FRD) in cord blood and placenta. The quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction was used to study the transcription of three IGs (H19, KCNQ1, and SNRPN) and two TEs (LINE-1 and ORF2).


After adjustment, the placental DNA methylation levels of H19/IGF2 were lower in the fresh embryo transfer group than in the control (H19/IGF2-seq1) and frozen embryo transfer (H19/IGF2-seq2) groups. The DNA methylation rate for LINE-1 was lower in placentas from the fresh embryo transfer group than in placentas from the control and frozen embryo transfer groups and for HERV-FRD compared with controls. In cord blood, DNA methylation levels were not significantly associated with the mode of conception. The relative expression of LINE-1 and ORF2 was decreased in both cord blood and placental tissues from fresh embryo transfer conceptions compared with natural conceptions and frozen embryo transfer conceptions.


Compared with natural conceptions and frozen embryo transfers, fresh embryo transfers were associated with methylation and/or transcription changes in some TEs and IGs, mostly in placental samples, which could indicate altered placental epigenetic regulation resulting from ovarian stimulation protocols.

Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.