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Title: Analysis of chromosomal abnormalities in human oocytes and embryos
Author: Al farawati, Samer
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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The chromosome constitution of human cleavage stage embryos has been extensively investi-gated using a variety of techniques, revealing high levels of aneuploidy and mosaicism. However, the final phase of preimplantation development, the blastocyst stage has received relatively little attention mostly because it is only recently that embryo culture has become sufficiently well optimised to reliabley generate blastocysts. One of the aims of this study was to examine blastocyst cytogenetics, characterising the extent and variety of aneuploidy and, where possible, determining the origin of the abnormalities detected. Both the frequency of aneuploidy and the incidence of mosaicism were significantly lower in the 52 embryos generated by 20 patients that had successfully undergone the first cellular differentiation, producing trophectoderm (TE) and inner cell mass (ICM). Valuable tools for the detailed chromosomal analysis of blastocysts, used in both research and clinical contexts, were comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) and array CGH (aCGH). However, validation of these methods, especially aCGH, was required in order to verify accuracy. A low error rate and a low misdiagnosis risk were demonstrated. The morphology of 1397 embryos at the cleavage and blastocyst stages from 229 patients was evaluated in relation to their chromosomal complement. The results obtained during this part of the project showed that, in general, there is little correlation between cleavage stage morphology and chromosome status. A weak link between morphology and aneuploidy, however, was found for embryos at the blastocyst stage. Chromosomally normal female embryos had a tendency to grow faster than male embryos at the cleavage stage and therefore tended to achieve superior morphological scores, whereas the trend was reversed at the blastocyst stage. Abnormal embryos carrying types of aneuploidy compatible with formation of a clinically recognised pregnancy had morphologies indistinguishable from those of euploid embryos. This study also aimed to utilise aCGH for the preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) of imbal-ances due to structural chromosome rearrangements (e.g. translocations) in 39 carriers, a total of 139 embryos were assessed. The data obtained revealed that carriers of Robertsonian translocations are at increased risk of aneuploidy affecting additional chromosomes not involved the translocation, a phenomenon known as an interchromosomal effect (ICE). Finally, the clinical outcomes of 300 patients undergoing preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) using aCGH, for various different indications, were evaluated at both the cleavage (795 embryos) and blastocyst stages (1097 embryos). The pregnancy rate following cleavage stage biopsy was significantly lower than following blastocyst stage biopsy. The miscarriage rate was significantly reduced following PGS for patients with recurrent miscarriages. This work provided promising data supporting the clinical use of comprehensive chromosome analysis for the screening or diagnosis of preimplantation embryos and also yielded scientifically useful information concerning the frequency and nature of aneuploidy at the final stage of development before implantation.
Supervisor: Wells, Dagan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Genetics (medical sciences) ; chromosome abnormalities ; embryos ; assissted reproductive technology