Evaluating the Developmental Potential of Oocytes and Preimplantation Embryos Based on Real-Time and Continuous Characterization of their Viscoelastic Properties

Oren Wintner 1,2 Roy Friedman 1 Dorit Kalo 3 Danny Kitsberg 2 Zvi Roth 3 Amnon Buxboim 1,2
1Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
2The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
3The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Currently, in vitro fertilization treatments account for 1.7% of live births in the USA alone. Early identification of embryos with high implantation potential is required for avoiding clinical complications to the newborn and to the mother that are associated with multiple-embryo pregnancy and for shortening time to pregnancy. Previous studies have demonstrated a correlation between the mechanical properties of the embryo and its developmental capacity to implant in the uterus. In this research, we develop multi-plate-based devices that enable a continuous viscoelastic characterization of the embryo during preimplantation development under optimal culture conditions. Stress-strain relationships are obtained in real time via controlled suction apparatus and a linear model is applied to extract the elasticity of the oocytes and embryos. Using a seasonal and an ageing bovine model, our preliminary results link between oocyte elasticity and its developmental potential to complete in vitro maturation and to become fertilized. Our rheological tools are compatible with visual assessment of preimplantation embryo development, which together offer non-invasive and accurate means of selecting the oocytes and embryos for transfer.

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