Evaluation of extracellular vesicles and gDNA from culture medium as a possible indicator of developmental competence in human embryos

Zygote. 2020 Oct 29;1-12. doi: 10.1017/S0967199420000593. Online ahead of print.


Human embryos generated in vitro have a high incidence of chromosomal abnormalities that negatively affect pregnancy rate. Embryos generated in vitro secrete extracellular vesicles (EVs) into the culture medium that could be used potentially as indicators of embryo competence. This research aimed to evaluate the concentration and size of EVs and their gDNA content as an indicator of developmental competence in human embryos. Human embryos generated by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) were classified morphologically as of either TOP, FAIR or POOR quality. Culture medium and developmentally arrested embryos (which were not able to be used for embryo transfer) were collected. Microvesicles, exosomes (MV/Exo) and apoptotic bodies (ABs) were isolated from culture medium. Nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) and array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) analysis were performed to evaluate EVs and their gDNA content. From NTA, the diameter (mean) of MVs/Exo from TOP quality embryos was higher (112.17 nm) compared with that of FAIR (108.02) and POOR quality embryos (102.78 nm) (P < 0.05). aCGH analysis indicated that MVs/Exo and ABs carried gDNA with the presence of 23 chromosome pairs. However, when arrested embryos were compared with their respective MVs/Exo and ABs, the latter had an increased rate of chromosomal abnormalities (24.9%) compared with embryos (8.7%) (P < 0.05). In conclusion, the size of EVs from culture medium might be an alternative for evaluating competence of human embryos, however more studies are needed to validate the use of gDNA from EVs as an indicator of embryo competence.

Keywords: Chromosome abnormalities; Embryo quality; Exosomes; Microvesicles; Preimplantation diagnosis.