Mitochondrial DNA content decreases during in vitro human embryo development: insights into mitochondrial DNA variation in preimplantation embryos donated for research

Original Articles: Gamete Biology

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VOLUME 1, ISSUE 1, P36-45

Authors:

Marta Perez-Sanchez, M.Sc., Antonio Díez-Juan, Ph.D., Diana Beltran, M.Sc., Amparo Mifsud, Ph.D., Amparo Mercader, Ph.D., Carmina Vidal, M.D., Elena Labarta, M.D., Antonio Pellicer, Prof., Emre Seli, M.D., María Jose De Los Santos, Ph.D.

Abstract:

Objective

To assess the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) load and variation in human oocytes and during preimplantation embryo development using specimens donated for research.


Design

Prospective cohort study.


Setting

Not applicable.


Patients

A total of 50 in vitro fertilization patients and 11 oocyte donors whose specimens were obtained between July 2017 and July 2018.


Interventions

None.


Main Outcome Measures

All specimens were separately collected. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction was performed with SurePlex DNA Amplification System (Illumina). Primers for the adenosine triphosphate 8 mitochondrial gene and the β-actin were used. Data were statistically analyzed by analysis of variance with the Scheffé multiple pairwise comparison for categorical variables and by linear regression for numerical variables.


Results

Human metaphase II (MII) oocytes had significantly more total mtDNA copy number than day 3 embryos, and day 3 embryos had more total and per-cell mtDNA copy number than aneuploid blastocysts. There was a significant decrease in mtDNA content associated with failed-fertilized oocytes compared to noninseminated metaphase II oocytes.


Conclusions

During preimplantation development, before implantation, human embryos undergo a significant decrease in total mtDNA content and no increase in mtDNA content at the blastocyst stage. Oocytes need to carry a correct threshold of mitochondrial load in the oocyte in order to successfully fertilize. An active degradation of mtDNA before implantation occurs after fertilization takes place. These findings could be used to improve knowledge about the best embryo culture conditions and would serve as a basis for further studies addressing again the use of mtDNA content as an embryo viability marker.

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. The journal publishes juried original scientific articles in clinical and laboratory research relevant to reproductive endocrinology, urology, andrology, physiology, immunology, genetics, contraception, and menopause. Fertility and Sterility® encourages and supports meaningful basic and clinical research, and facilitates and promotes excellence in professional education, in the field of reproductive medicine.

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