Time-lapse embryo imaging and morphokinetic profiling: Towards a general characterisation of embryogenesis

Mandawala, A.A.; Harvey, S.C.; Roy, T.K. and Fowler, K. E. (2016). Time-lapse embryo imaging and morphokinetic profiling: Towards a general characterisation of embryogenesis. Animal Reproduction Science, 174 pp. 2–10.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anireprosci.2016.09.015


In vitro fertilisation is an effective method of assisted reproductive technology in both humans and certain non-human animal species. In most species, specifically, in humans and livestock, high in vitro fertilisation success rates are achieved via the transfer of embryos with the highest implantation and subsequent developmental potential. In order to reduce the risk of multiple gestation, which could be a result of the transfer of several embryos per cycle, restrictive transfer policies and methods to improve single embryo selection have been implemented. A non-invasive alternative to standard microscopic observation of post-fertilisation embryo morphology and development is time-lapse technology; this enables continuous, uninterrupted observation of embryo development from fertilisation to transfer. Today, there are several time-lapse devices that are commercially available for clinical use, and methods in which time-lapse could be used to improve embryology are continually being assessed. Here we review the use of time-lapse technology in the characterisation of embryogenesis and its role in embryo selection. Furthermore, the prospect of using this technology to identify aneuploidy in human embryos, as well as the use of time-lapse to improve embryological procedures in agriculturally important species such as the pig and cow are discussed.

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