Background: Microarray-based and next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies have revealed that segmental aneuploidy is frequently present in human oocytes, cleavage-stage embryos and blastocysts. However, very little research has analyzed the type, size, chromosomal distribution and topography of the chromosomal segments at the different stages of development.
Methods: This is a retrospective study of 822 PGT-A (preimplantation genetic test for aneuploidies) performed on trophectoderm samples from 3565 blastocysts biopsied between January 2016 and April 2017. The cycles in question had been initiated for varying clinical indications. Samples were analyzed by next generation sequencing-based technology. Segmental aneuploidies were evaluated when fragment size was > 5 Mb. Blastocysts presenting a single segmental aneuploidy (SSA), without any additional whole-chromosome gain/loss, were statistically analyzed for incidence, type, size and chromosomal emplacement. Segment sizes relative to the whole chromosome or arm (chromosome- and arm-ratios) were also studied.
Results: 8.4% (299/3565) of blastocysts exhibited segmental aneuploidy for one or more chromosomes, some of which were associated with whole-chromosome aneuploidy while others were not. Nearly half of them (4.5%: 159/3565 of blastocysts) exhibited pure-SSA, meaning that a single chromosome was affected by a SSA. Segments were more frequent in medium-sized metacentric or submetacentric chromosomes and particularly in q-chrmosome arms, variables that were related to trophectoderm quality. SSA size was related to a greater extent to chromosome number and the arm affected than it was to SSA type. In absolute values (Mb), SSA size was larger in large chromosomes. However, the SSA:chromosome ratio was constant across all chromosomes and never exceeded 50% of the chromosome.
Conclusions: SSA frequency is chromosome- and topographically dependent, and its incidence is not related to clinical or embryological factors, but rather to trophectoderm quality. SSA might be originated by chromosome instability in response to chromothripsis, bias introduced by the biopsy and/or iatrogenic effects.
Trial registration: Retrospectively registered.
Keywords: Chromosomal instability; Chromothripsis; Human blastocyst; PGT-A; Segmental aneuploidy.