Similar morphokinetic patterns in embryos derived from obese and normoweight infertile women: a time-lapse study

J Bellver, A Mifsud, N Grau, L Privitera, M Meseguer
Human Reproduction 2013, 28 (3): 794-800

STUDY QUESTION: Does female obesity affect the dynamic parameters of embryo quality assessed by time-lapse analysis?

SUMMARY ANSWER: Female obesity does not affect the dynamic embryo quality as determined by image acquisition and time-lapse analysis.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Female obesity impairs natural and assisted reproduction but there is no agreement on the specific contribution of gametes, embryos or endometrial receptivity. In this preliminary study the dynamic parameters of embryo quality are assessed for the first time by time-lapse analysis.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: Two-year cohort retrospective study comparing embryos from three groups of patients according to the presence of infertility and/or obesity.

PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: Participants attended a University-affiliated private clinic where ICSI was performed. Using an IVF incubator with a built-in camera designed to automatically acquire images at defined time points, we monitored individual embryos from 89 patients: 71 embryos from 13 obese infertile women, 242 embryos from 45 normoweight infertile women and 111 embryos from 31 normoweight fertile oocyte donors. The chronological pattern of cell divisions (timings of cell cleavages) and other morphologic features (time-dependent cell size and nucleation) was recorded.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Embryos from obese and normoweight infertile women showed similar cleavage patterns, but occurring more slowly, to those from fertile donors. These differences were statistically significant for t2 (time of cleavage to two-blastomere embryo) (P = 0.016), t3 (P = 0.014), t4 (P = 0.003) and t5 (P = 0.040).

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: These are preliminary data from a retrospective analysis with a limited sample size.

GENERALIZABILITY TO OTHER POPULATIONS: Not recommended until further studies using time-lapse analysis of a larger sample have been performed.


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