Can a genetically-modified organism-containing diet influence embryo development? A preliminary study on pre-implantation mouse embryos

Eur J Histochem. Oct-Dec 2008;52(4):263-7. doi: 10.4081/1226.


In eukaryotic cells, pre-mRNAs undergo several transformation steps to generate mature mRNAs. Recent studies have demonstrated that a diet containing a genetically modified (GM) soybean can induce modifications of nuclear constituents involved in RNA processing in some tissues of young, adult and old mice. On this basis, we have investigated the ultrastructural and immunocytochemical features of pre-implantation embryos from mice fed either GM or non- GM soybean in order to verify whether the parental diet can affect the morpho-functional development of the embryonic ribonucleoprotein structural constituents involved in pre-mRNA pathways. Morphological observations revealed that the general aspect of embryo nuclear components is similar in the two experimental groups. However, immunocytochemical and in situ hybridization results suggest a temporary decrease of pre-mRNA transcription and splicing in 2-cell embryos and a resumption in 4-8-cell embryos from mice fed GM soybean; moreover, pre-mRNA maturation seems to be less efficient in both 2-cell and 4-8-cell embryos from GM-fed mice than in controls. Although our results are still preliminary and limited to the pre-implantation phases, the results of this study encourage deepening on the effects of food components and/or contaminants on embryo development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Blastocyst / drug effects*
  • Blastocyst / physiology
  • Blastocyst / ultrastructure
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / drug effects
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Embryonic Development / drug effects*
  • Embryonic Development / physiology
  • Female
  • Food, Genetically Modified / toxicity*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / drug effects
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA Precursors / metabolism
  • RNA Splicing / drug effects
  • RNA Splicing / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Soybeans / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects


  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Bromodeoxyuridine