Identification of apolipoprotein A1 in the human embryonic secretome

Fertil Steril. 2011 Aug;96(2):422-427.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2011.05.049. Epub 2011 Jun 15.


Objective: To identify factors secreted by the human embryo and correlate levels with embryo morphology and pregnancy outcome.

Design: A laboratory-based study of human embryo protein synthesis and secretion and a retrospective analysis of spent embryo culture media as it relates to pregnancy outcome.

Setting: University-based academic IVF program.

Patient(s): IVF patients who had donated cryopreserved human pronuclear-stage embryos. Patients undergoing fresh IVF cycles resulting in a blastocyst transfer who donated spent media drops.

Intervention(s): In vitro embryo culture and collection of spent media.

Main outcome measure(s): Protein analysis and identification by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry, ApoA1 quantification by ELISA, and mRNA analysis by quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction.

Result(s): By protein gel electrophoresis, apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1) was increased in the culture media from good-quality blastocysts (n = 6 embryos) compared to either cleavage-arrested embryos (n = 6 embryos) or poor-quality blastocysts (n = 6 embryos) using spent media from culture days 4 and 5, respectively. Apolipoprotein A1 concentrations were 23.1% greater in day 5 spent culture media from good-grade blastocysts (n = 30) when compared to poor-grade embryos (n = 30). However, in a group of patients (n = 20) with transfer of two good-quality blastocysts, ApoA1 levels from day 5 spent media did not correlate with embryo implantation and pregnancy. Quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction confirmed the presence of ApoA1 mRNA transcripts in human blastocysts.

Conclusion(s): Apolipoprotein A1 is produced by human preimplantation embryos, and increased levels are present in spent culture media containing blastocysts of higher morphologic grade. These results suggest a role for lipoproteins in early embryologic development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apolipoprotein A-I / genetics
  • Apolipoprotein A-I / metabolism*
  • Blastocyst / metabolism*
  • Culture Media / metabolism
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Embryo Culture Techniques
  • Embryo Implantation
  • Embryo Transfer
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate
  • Proteomics / methods
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Time Factors
  • Up-Regulation


  • APOA1 protein, human
  • Apolipoprotein A-I
  • Culture Media
  • RNA, Messenger