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The duration of embryo culture after mouse IVF differentially affects cardiovascular and metabolic health in male offspring

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Miguel Velazquez



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


STUDY QUESTION Do the long-term health outcomes following IVF differ depending upon the duration of embryo culture before transfer? SUMMARY ANSWER Using a mouse model, we demonstrate that in male but not female offspring, adverse cardiovascular (CV) health was more likely with prolonged culture to the blastocyst stage, but metabolic dysfunction was more likely if embryo transfer (ET) occurred at the early cleavage stage. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY ART associate with increased risk of adverse CV and metabolic health in offspring, and these findings have been confirmed in animal models in the absence of parental infertility issues. It is unclear which specific ART treatments may cause these risks. There is increasing use of blastocyst, versus cleavage-stage, transfer in clinical ART which does not appear to impair perinatal health of children born, but the longer-term health implications are unknown. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION Five mouse groups were generated comprising: (i) natural mating (NM)—naturally mated, non-superovulated and undisturbed gestation; (ii) IV-ET-2Cell—in-vivo derived two-cell embryos collected from superovulated mothers, with immediate ET to recipients; (iii) IVF-ET-2Cell—IVF generated embryos, from oocytes from superovulated mothers, cultured to the two-cell stage before ET to recipients; (iv) IV-ET-BL—in-vivo derived blastocysts collected from superovulated mothers, with immediate ET to recipients; (v) IVF-ET-BL—IVF generated embryos, from oocytes from superovulated mothers, cultured to the blastocyst stage before ET to recipients. Both male and female offspring were analysed for growth, CV and metabolic markers of health. There were 8–13 litters generated for each group for analyses; postnatal data were analysed by multilevel random effects regression to take account of between-mother and within-mother variation and litter size. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTINGS, METHODS C57/BL6 female mice (3–4 weeks old) were used for oocyte production; CBA males for sperm with human tubal fluid medium were used for IVF. Embryos were transferred (ET) to MF1 pseudo-pregnant recipients at the two-cell stage or cultured in synthetic oviductal medium enriched with potassium medium to the blastocyst stage before ET. Control in-vivo embryos from C57BL6 × CBA matings were collected and immediately transferred at the two-cell or blastocyst stage. Postnatal assays included growth rate up to 27 weeks; systolic blood pressure (SBP) at 9, 15 and 21 weeks; lung and serum angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) activity at time of cull (27 weeks); glucose tolerance test (GTT; 27 weeks); basal glucose and insulin levels (27 weeks); and lipid accumulation in liver cryosections using Oil Red O imaging (27 weeks). MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE Blastocysts formed by IVF developed at a slower rate and comprised fewer cells that in-vivo generated blastocysts without culture (P < 0.05). Postnatal growth rate was increased in all four experimental treatments compared with NM group (P < 0.05). SBP, serum and lung ACE and heart/body weight were higher in IVF-ET-BL versus IVF-ET-2Cell males (P < 0.05) and higher than in other treatment groups, with SBP and lung ACE positively correlated (P < 0.05). Glucose handling (GTT AUC) was poorer and basal insulin levels were higher in IVF-ET-2Cell males than in IVF-ET-BL (P < 0.05) with the glucose:insulin ratio more negatively correlated with body weight in IVF-ET-2Cell males than in other groups. Liver/body weight and liver lipid droplet diameter and density in IVF-ET-2Cell males were higher than in IVF-ET-BL males (P < 0.05). IVF groups had poorer health characteristics than their in-vivo control groups, indicating that outcomes were not caused specifically by background techniques (superovulation, ET). No consistent health effects from duration of culture were identified in female offspring. LARGE SCALE DATA N/A. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION Results from experimental animal models cannot be extrapolated to humans. Nevertheless, they are valuable to develop conceptual models, in this case, in the absence of confounding parental infertility, in assessing the safety of ART manipulations. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS The study indicates that longer duration of embryo culture after IVF up to blastocyst before ET leads to increased dysfunction of CV health in males compared with IVF and shorter cleavage-stage ET. However, the metabolic health of male offspring was poorer after shorter versus longer culture duration. This distinction indicates that the origin of CV and metabolic health phenotypes after ART may be different. The poorer metabolic health of males after cleavage-stage ET coincides with embryonic genome activation occurring at the time of ET. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S) This work was supported through the European Union FP7-CP-FP Epihealth programme (278418) and FP7-PEOPLE-2012-ITN EpiHealthNet programme (317146) to T.P.F., the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) (BB/F007450/1) to T.P.F., and the Saudi government, University of Jeddah and King Abdulaziz University to A.A. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Aljahdali A, Airina RKRI, Velazquez MA, Sheth B, Wallen K, Osmond C, Watkins AJ, Eckert JJ, Smyth NR, Fleming TP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Human Reproduction

Year: 2020

Volume: 35

Issue: 11

Pages: 2497–2514

Print publication date: 01/11/2020

Online publication date: 06/10/2020

Acceptance date: 24/07/2020

Date deposited: 19/10/2020

ISSN (print): 0268-1161

ISSN (electronic): 1460-2350

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/humrep/deaa205

PubMed id: 33020802


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Funder referenceFunder name
Saudi government University of Jeddah and King Abdulaziz University