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The Fertility Show


 

IVF culture media affects embryos and babies

30 August 2016

By Helen Robertson

Appeared in BioNews 866

Fertility scientists are calling for greater transparency around the composition of embryo culture media used in IVF, after research comparing two solutions found different outcomes in implantation success rates and birth weight.

'If the culture medium can do that, what else can it do? What might come out in 20 or 30 years?', asked Dr John Dumoulin of Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, who led the research. The study was published in Human Reproduction.

Culture media is the solution in which embryos are grown for the first few days during IVF treatment, prior to implantation in the uterus. This study is the first randomised and controlled trial to compare the effects of different media used by fertility clinics upon embryos.

Dumoulin and his team studied 836 couples in the Netherlands who were already scheduled for IVF treatment, and randomly allocated them one of two common IVF culture media, G5 or human tubule fluid (HTF). The progress of their IVF treatment was followed for a year, or until birth in the case of successful pregnancies.

The team found that using G5 solution led to a higher number of viable embryos (2.8 versus 2.3), and higher rates of successful fresh embryo implantation (20.2 percent vs 15.3 percent) and pregnancy (47.7 percent vs 40.1 percent), compared to HTF.

However, G5 babies also had a lower birthweight, by an average of 158g. Dumoulin cautioned that it cannot be interpreted yet whether G5 is better or worse than HTF. He called for greater scrutiny and randomised testing of commercial embryo culture media.

The composition of different commercial culture media can vary widely. A review paper by a working group of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology found that while companies might list the components of the solution, they don't provide the proportions or concentrations used. There is currently no uniform regulation of embryo culture media and fertility clinics select media according to their own preferences.

'The key issue is that we must know the composition of the culture media we use, since it seems to induce differences in the make-up of the children born,' said Professor Hans Ever, an editor of Human Reproduction, who wrote an accompanying editorial to the study. 'We have no information about long-term consequences of this, but we cannot rule out that the composition of the culture media may affect the health of children as they grow up and become adults.'

'I think the time has certainly come to ask the manufacturers of these media to be upfront and clear about what they put in them', said Allan Pacey, professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield, who was not involved in the study. 'It beggars belief that in this day and age of food labelling and the regulation of medicines that this is not already done.'

SOURCES & REFERENCES
New Scientist | 24 August 2016
 
Eurekalert (press release) | 23 August 2016
 
Human Reproduction | 23 August 2016
 
Human Reproduction | 23 August 2016
 
Human Reproduction | 23 August 2016
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

16 October 2017 - by Dr Kay Elder 
Successful IVF treatment crucially depends on the culture systems used, which must provide an optimal environment for healthy embryo development. Yet most embryos arrest in culture; human embryo culture has long been based upon research into animal systems...
09 January 2017 - by Annabel Slater 
The type of culture media used in IVF can more than double the chance of producing healthy embryos and significantly affect chances of successful conception...
24 October 2016 - by Nina Chohan 
A study has found that women with higher levels of the 'stress hormone' cortisol in their hair are less likely to conceive through IVF than women with lower levels of the hormone...

23 March 2015 - by Sophie McLachlan 
The nutrient-filled liquid used to grow embryos during IVF might affect the resulting male to female birth ratio, a study suggests...
22 June 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
BioNews reporting from ESHRE conference, Prague (sponsored by Planer cryoTechnology). By Dr Jess Buxton: New research on mouse embryos suggests that laboratory culture conditions can affect the activity of several genes. The findings, presented by US scientists at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology...

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CROSSING FRONTIERS

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Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

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Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Jacques Cohen

Dr Anna Smajdor

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Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

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