A simple and rapid flow cytometry-based assay to identify a competent embryo prior to embryo transfer

Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 6;7:39927. doi: 10.1038/srep39927.


Multiple pregnancy is a risk for prematurity and preterm birth. The goal of assisted reproduction is to achieve a single pregnancy, by transferring a single embryo. This requires improved methods to identify the competent embryo. Here, we describe such a test, based on flow cytometric determination of the nucleic acid (PI+) containing extracellular vesicle (EV) count in day 5 embryo culture media. 88 women undergoing IVF were included in the study. More than 1 embryos were transferred to most patients. In 58 women, the transfer resulted in clinical pregnancy, whereas in 30 women in implantation failure. In 112 culture media of embryos from the "clinical pregnancy" group, the number of PI+ EVs was significantly lower than in those of 49 embryos, from the "implantation failure" group. In 14 women, transfer of a single embryo resulted in a singleton pregnancy, or, transfer of two embryos in twin pregnancy. The culture media of 19 out of the 20 "confirmed competent" embryos contained a lower level of PI+ EVs than the cut off level, suggesting that the competent embryo can indeed be identified by low PI+ EV counts. We developed a noninvasive, simple, inexpensive, quick test, which identifies the embryos that are most likely to implant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Embryo Culture Techniques
  • Embryo Implantation
  • Embryo Transfer
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Pregnancy Rate*
  • Pregnancy, Multiple


  • Amino Acids