Blastomere removal from cleavage-stage mouse embryos alters steroid metabolism during pregnancy

Atsushi Sugawara, Brittany Sato, Elise Bal, Abby C. Collier, Monika A. Ward

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a genetic screening of embryos conceived with assisted reproduction technologies (ART). A single blastomere from an early-stage embryo is removed and molecular analyses follow to identify embryos carrying genetic defects. PGD is considered highly successful for detecting genetic anomalies, but the effects of blastomere biopsy on fetal development are understudied. We aimed to determine whether single blastomere removal affects steroid homeostasis in the maternal-placental-fetal unit during mouse pregnancy. Embryos generated by in vitro fertilization (IVF) were biopsied at the four-cell stage, cultured to morula/early blastocyst, and transplanted into the oviducts of surrogate mothers. Nonbiopsied embryos from the same IVF cohorts served as controls. Cesarean section was performed at term, and maternal and fetal tissues were collected. Embryo biopsy affected the levels of steroids (estradiol, estrone, and progesterone) in fetal and placental compartments but not in maternal tissues. Steroidogenic enzyme activities (3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, cytochrome P450 17alpha-hydroxylase, and cytochrome P450 19) were unaffected but decreased activities of steroid clearance enzymes (uridine diphosphate-glucuronosyltransferase and sulfotransferase) were observed in placentas and fetal livers. Although maternal body, ovarian, and placental weights did not differ, the weights of fetuses derived from biopsied embryos were lower than those of their nonbiopsied counterparts. The data demonstrate that blastomere biopsy deregulates steroid metabolism during pregnancy. This may have profound effects on several aspects of fetal development, of which low birth weight is only one. If a similar phenomenon occurs in humans, it may explain low birth weights associated with PGD/ART and provide a plausible target for improving PGD outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4
Number of pages1
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jul


  • Assisted reproduction technologies
  • Embryo
  • In vitro fertilization
  • Placenta
  • Steroid hormones


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