Human pregnancy following cryopreservation, thawing and transfer of an eight-cell embryo

Nature. 1983 Oct;305(5936):707-9. doi: 10.1038/305707a0.


The widespread use of clomiphene citrate and exogenous gonadotrophins for in vitro fertilization (IVF) in human frequently results in the production of multiple embryos. Replacement of more than two embryos increases pregnancy rate but may result in multiple pregnancies with increased pre- and post-natal abnormality. Preservation of embryos for a limited time allows fewer embryos to be replaced on several different occasions and thus the problems of multiple pregnancy can be minimized, the effectiveness of a single IVF procedure increased and embryo replacement in adverse maternal conditions avoided. Preimplantation embryos have been successfully cryopreserved in many animal species. The sensitivity of embryos to cooling and freezing varies between species and stages of embryo development. We report here the cryopreservation procedures that allow a high survival rate of four- and eight-cell human embryos and the establishment of a pregnancy following the freezing and storage of an eight-cell embryo for 4 months in liquid nitrogen. The pregnancy terminated at 24 weeks' gestation due to development of a septic Streptomyces agalactiae chorion amnionitis after premature membrane rupture.

KIE: An Australian team at Monash University reports on the methods used to achieve pregnancy in humans by means of in vitro fertilization and freezing of embryos prior to replacement in the womb. The researchers briefly note some of the ethical and legal problems that could arise from long-term storage of embryos. Such problems are now under consideration by the Australian Law Reform Commission.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide
  • Embryo Transfer / methods*
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / methods*
  • Fetal Death / etiology
  • Fetal Membranes, Premature Rupture / complications
  • Freezing
  • Humans
  • Parental Consent
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Assessment
  • Streptomyces
  • Tissue Preservation / methods*


  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide