Association between the morphokinetics of in-vitro-derived bovine embryos and the transcriptomic profile of the derived blastocysts

Shira Yaacobi-Artzi, Dorit Kalo, Zvi Roth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The time-lapse system is a non-invasive method that enables a continuous evaluation through embryo development. Here, we examined the association between the morphokinetics of the developing embryo and the transcriptomic profile of the formed blastocysts. Bovine oocytes were matured and fertilized in vitro; then, the putative zygotes were cultured in an incubator equipped with a time-lapse system. Based on the first-cleavage pattern, embryos were categorized as normal or abnormal (68.5±2.2 and 31.6±2.3%, respectively; P<0.001). A cleaved embryo was defined as normal when it first cleaved into two equal blastomeres; it was classified as synchronous or asynchronous according to its subsequent cleavages. An abnormal pattern was defined as direct, unequal, or reverse cleavage. Direct cleavage was classified as division from one cell directly into three or more blastomeres; unequal cleavage was classified as division that resulted in asymmetrically sized blastomeres; and reverse cleavage of the first division was classified as reduced number of blastomeres from two to one. Of the normally cleaving embryos, 60.2±3.1% underwent synchronous cleavage into 4, 8, and 16 blastomeres, and 39.7±3.1% cleaved asynchronously (P<0.001). The blastocyte formation rate was lower for the synchronously vs. the asynchronously cleaved embryos (P<0.03). The abnormally cleaved embryos showed low competence to develop to blastocysts, relative to the normally cleaved embryos (P<0.001). Microarray analysis revealed 895 and 643 differentially expressed genes in blastocysts that developed from synchronously and asynchronously cleaved embryos, respectively, relative to those that developed from directly cleaved embryos. The genes were related to the cell cycle, cell differentiation, metabolism, and apoptosis. About 180 differentially expressed genes were found between the synchronously vs. the asynchronously cleaved embryos, related to metabolism and the apoptosis mechanism. We provide the first evidence indicating that an embryo’s morphokinetics is associated with the transcriptome profile of the derived blastocyst, which might be practically relevant for the embryo transfer program.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere0276642
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10 October
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Yaacobi-Artzi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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