Human embryos secrete microRNAs into culture media a potential biomarker for implantation

Human blastocysts secrete microRNAs into culture media, and MicroRNAs may be a noninvasive marker for delivery after in vitro fertilization.

Evan M. Rosenbluth, M.D., Dawne N. Shelton, Ph.D., Lindsey M. Wells, M.D., Amy E. Sparks, Ph.D., Brad J. Van Voorhis, M.D.

Volume 101, Issue 5, Pages 1493–1500


To determine whether human blastocysts secrete microRNA (miRNAs) into culture media and whether these reflect embryonic ploidy status and can predict in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcomes.

Experimental study of human embryos and IVF culture media.

Academic IVF program.

91 donated, cryopreserved embryos that developed into 28 tested blastocysts, from 13 couples who had previously completed IVF cycles.


Main Outcome Measure(s):
Relative miRNA expression in IVF culture media.

Blastocysts were assessed by chromosomal comparative genomic hybridization analysis, and the culture media from 55 single-embryo transfer cycles was tested for miRNA expression using an array-based quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis. The expression of the identified miRNA was correlated with pregnancy outcomes. Ten miRNA were identified in the culture media; two were specific to spent media (miR-191 and miR-372), and one was only present in media before the embryos had been cultured (miR-645). MicroRNA-191 was more highly concentrated in media from aneuploid embryos, and miR-191, miR-372, and miR-645 were more highly concentrated in media from failed IVF/non-intracytoplasmic sperm injection cycles. Additionally, miRNA were found to be more highly concentrated in ICSI and day-5 media samples when compared with regularly inseminated and day-4 samples, respectively.

MicroRNA can be detected in IVF culture media. Some of these miRNA are differentially expressed according to the fertilization method, chromosomal status, and pregnancy outcome, which makes them potential biomarkers for predicting IVF success.

  • fdominguez

    Nice work. Congratulations to the authors. We have been studying
    different molecules in the spent media since a long time and we constantly see
    the same thing. A lot of proteins, metabolites and other molecules come from
    the serum/albumin added to the base culture media. That is why is so important
    to always analyze the base media for this kind of studies. Furthermore, we have
    to start thinking how can these molecules (including miRNAs) improve/interfere
    with the correct/defective development of the embryo. I wonder if the data
    obtained in this study would replicate with another base media. Have you tried
    with a different culture media?

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