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Type: Thesis
Title: The impact of in vitro stress on pre-implantation embryo development, viability and mitochondrial homeostasis.
Author: Zander, Deirdre Linda
Issue Date: 2010
School/Discipline: School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health : Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Abstract: It is recognised that the environment to which the fetus is exposed in utero, after implantation, can program longer term health outcomes and alter the possibility of disease onset later in life. It is becoming evident that the environment, to which the pre-implantation embryo is exposed, can also affect the ability of the embryo to form a viable pregnancy as well as altering fetal growth. Despite this understanding, little is known about the mechanism by which the environment can ‘program’ the pre-implantation embryo. Using model stress systems, either ammonium or DMO in the culture medium, this thesis addressed the hypothesis that suboptimal environmental conditions may alter mitochondrial homeostasis and function and/or epigenetic parameters and these are the possible mechanisms responsible for the altered fetal outcomes seen. While common measures of embryo quality such as on time blastocyst development were not affected by either stress, more in-depth investigations found several striking differences. Exposure to DMO significantly decreased blastocyst cell number and allocation to the inner cell mass and trophectoderm, as well as increased blastocyst apoptosis. After exposure to DMO, blastocysts were transferred to pseudopregnant recipients, and both the ability of the embryos to implant and develop into a fetus was impaired as well as fetal weights and crown rump length were significantly reduced indicative of altered growth. Similar results have also been demonstrated after pre-implantation embryos are exposed to ammonium in vitro. Exposure to ammonium during pre-implantation embryo development also altered placental gene expression and function, indicating a possible mechanism of the observed reduced fetal growth parameters. Interestingly, the pre-implantation embryo appears to be the most vulnerable to an environmental stress during the pre-compaction stage, in particular the zygote to 2-cell transition, as exposure to either stress during this stage alone shows similar perturbations to if the stress was present for the entire pre-implantation developmental period. At this early stage of embryo development, mitochondria are the sole energy generators and are therefore critical for embryo function. This study determined that either ammonium or DMO stress exposure, during the first cleavage division, significantly perturbed mitochondrial distribution, membrane potential and ATP/ADP levels. Removal of the stress did not allow these effects to be completely reversed, implicating mitochondrial perturbations as a possible mechanism behind altered embryo programming. During pre-implantation embryo development there are also significant epigenetic changes which are vital for re-programming the embryonic genome. Both in vitro stresses significantly altered DNA de-methylation at the 2-cell stage and reduced blastocyst gene expression levels of DNA methyltransferases (Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b), which are responsible for de novo methylation. Together these data highlight the importance of pre-implantation embryo development as a critical period of growth in which the presence of environmental stress can have an impact on metabolic homeostasis and critical epigenetic events that may be responsible for the downstream effects seen on fetal growth. These results are not only important for assisted reproductive therapy, where the presence of an in vitro laboratory stress can potentially alter embryo programming, but are also important for in vivo embryo development where the health and wellbeing of the mother can also potentially influence the in utero environment and thus the long-term health outcomes of her child.
Advisor: Lane, Michelle Therese
Thompson, Jeremy Gilbert E.
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, 2010
Keywords: embryo culture; in-vitro stress; ammonium; PH; mitochondria; metabolism; IVF
Provenance: Copyright material removed from digital thesis. See print copy in University of Adelaide Library for full text.
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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