Analysis of pronuclear zygote configurations in 459 clinical pregnancies obtained with assisted reproductive technique procedures
Abnormal embryo development represents the major cause of implantation failures and accounts for the low rate of human fertility in vivo or in vitro. Chromosome abnormalities are widely involved in this process as 26% of oocytes, 8% of fertilizing spermatozoa and 29% of preimplantation embryos carry a chromosome aberration induced by meiotic (aneuploidy) or mitotic (mosaic) non disjunctions. Fertilization anomalies (possibly increased by in vitro procedures) were recorded: 1.6% of embryos resulted from parthenogenesis and 6.4% were polyploid (mainly polyspermic). A morphological, histological and ultrastructural study of embryos recovered after in vivo or in vitro fertilization showed some anomalies: multinucleated blastomeres, cytoplasmic fragments in the perivitelline space, vacuoles, associated or not with developmental impairement. Finally, a few embryos appeared to be free of abnormalities. The analysis of in vitro developmental capacities of normal or abnormal embryos showed great differences: parthenones exceptionally reached the blastocyst stage and therefore probably did not implant. The diploid embryos used in this study were (for ethical reasons) more or less fragmented and gave evidence of low developmental capacities, limited to the 3rd cleavage. Triploid embryos were able to further develop as some of them reached the early blastocyst stage; they represented the major cause of chromosomal 1st trimester abortions. It is interesting to note that 47% of tripronucleated ova divided directly into 3 and 6 cells (probably via a tripolar spindle) instead of 2 and 4 cells as classically described. Finally, tetraploid embryos expressed a precocious lethality as none developed beyond the 3rd cleavage. To conclude, many embryos carry genetic and/or cytological abnormalities which may be enhanced by superovulation treatments. The selection proceeds through all pre- and postimplantation steps, and as a matter of fact nor more than 0.6% newborns are abnormal.