The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 49: 409 - 416 (2005)

Chromosomal disorders and nuclear and cell destruction in cleaving human embryos

Stefka M. Delimitreva*,1, Ralitsa S. Zhivkova1, Ilya T.s. Vatev1 and Draga I. Toncheva2

1Human IVF center, Department of Biology and 2Department of Medical Genetics, Medical University, Sofia, Bulgaria


Three types of defects of preimplantation embryogenesis contribute to the developmental arrest of cleaving human embryos: blastomere fragmentation, abnormal nuclear status and chromosomal disorders. Data concerning the relation and succession of these abnormalities during first mitotic cycles of the human zygote are controversial and mainly empirical at present. In this study we have performed simultaneous evaluation of blastomere fragmentation, nuclear apoptotic changes and the ploidy of four chromosomes (1, 5, 19 and X or 18, 21, X and Y) in 193 human embryos. Another group of 28 embryos was subjected to TUNEL for confirmation of apoptosis in blastomere nuclei. Nuclei with apoptotic chromatin were seen in nearly 1/10 of blastomeres of embryos with good morphology and in more than 1/5 of blastomeres of embryos with more than 20% fragmentation. The correct number of investigated chromosomes was registered in 85.2% of successfully tested embryos. Chromatin apoptotic changes are the only limiting factor for the success of chromosomal FISH tests. Nearly 1/2 of embryos with at least one apoptotic nucleus were chromosomally abnormal. For the embryos that contain only normal nuclei, the rate of ploid normality was more than 89%. The rate of euploidy was higher (66%) in embryos with a significant degree of cell fragmentation. Moderate cell fragmentation was not related to significant increase of chromatin and chromosomal disorders. In a substantial portion of abnormal blastomeres, chromatin damage preceded cell fragmentation. Nuclear destruction in human blastomeres was illustrated by fluorograms of different stages of chromatin lesions.


preimplantation, aneuploidy, apoptosis, blastomere fragmentation, in vitro fertilization

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