Studies reporting term pregnancy and the production of genetically identical offspring from isolated blastomeres of early stage embryos have been carried out in small and large animals. However, very little is known about the effects of embryo splitting on the development and reproductive competency of human embryos. In this study, we investigated the effects of embryo splitting on profile of microRNAs (miRNAs) detected in their spent blastocyst medium (SBM) by comparative analysis of miRNA profiles in SBM of human twin embryos created by blastomere biopsy and SBM of blastocysts that resulted in a healthy pregnancy and live birth following embryo transfer. The profile of miRNA secretion in in vitro culture media consistently distinguishes twin from control embryos. We found that six miRNAs are significantly more abundant in SBM from twin embryos, while nine are significantly more abundant in SBM from euploid implanted blastocysts. These nine include miRNA-30c, a previously reported marker of blastocyst implantation potential. Furthermore, 22.9% of miRNAs secreted by twin embryos were never detected in SBM from normal reproductively competent blastocysts, or from trophectoderm (TE) samples from normal blastocysts donated for the research. The miRNA profile, unique to twin blastocysts, might be a result of differential lineage commitment in these embryos.
Keywords: embryo splitting; human preimplantation embryos; miR-30c; miRNA; spent blastocyst medium.