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Metabolomic Screening of Embryos to Enhance Successful Selection and Transfer

McKeegan, Paul J.; Sturmey, Roger G.


Paul J. McKeegan


Gabor Kovacs

Anthony Rutherford

David K. Gardner


A key role of cellular metabolism is the provision of energy, in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In the case of the embryo, energy demand is dynamic and highly regulated to facilitate developmental milestones such as fertilization, cleavage, embryonic genome activation (EGA), and blastocoel formation. Broadly, ATP demand increases throughout embryo development, most dramatically at the blastocyst stage to provide enough ATP for the Na+K+ATPase to pump fluid into the forming blastocoel and satisfy energy demands as the embryo initiates significant protein synthesis and true growth. However, embryos have considerable metabolic plasticity, in that they can adapt to sub- optimal conditions by shifting reliance from one energy substrate to another. In addition, an individual embryo has a unique pattern, or profile, of metabolism, which may be measured noninvasively through determination of the composition of spent culture medium. The extent to which metabolic profile maps on to key aspects of development, including viability, has been the subject of significant research, offering the alluring prospect of a noninvasive biomarker of embryo health.
While morphology and morphokinetics are the most commonly used methods of predicting oocyte and embryo quality in the clinic, there is a mature body of literature from numerous groups that suggest that noninvasive methods of metabolic profiling can offer accurate predictions of developmental capacity. Metabolic assays report on factors which cannot be seen by morphological assessment. For example, individual or groups of metabolites and substrates, such as amino acids, carbohydrates, or lipid, have been shown able to relate to blastocyst rate (Houghton et al. 2002; Guerif et al. 2013), implantation rate and pregnancy rate (Brison et al. 2004), levels of aneuploidy (Picton et al. 2010), and embryo sex (Sturmey et al. 2010). However, emerging metabolomic methods may prove even more powerful.


McKeegan, P. J., & Sturmey, R. G. (2019). Metabolomic Screening of Embryos to Enhance Successful Selection and Transfer. In G. Kovacs, A. Rutherford, & D. K. Gardner (Eds.), How to prepare the egg and embryo to maximize IVF success, 295-304. Cambridge University Press.

Publication Date Jan 17, 2019
Deposit Date Jun 13, 2019
Journal How to Prepare the Egg and Embryo to Maximize IVF Success
Pages 295-304
Book Title How to prepare the egg and embryo to maximize IVF success
Chapter Number 25
ISBN 9781316756744; 9781316621776
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Publisher URL