Longitudinal surface measurements of human blastocysts show that the dynamics of blastocoel expansion are associated with fertilization method and ongoing pregnancy

Eva S. van Marion*, Effrosyni A. Chavli, Joop S.E. Laven, Régine P.M. Steegers-Theunissen, Maria P.H. Koster, Esther B. Baart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Despite all research efforts during this era of novel time-lapse morphokinetic parameters, a morphological grading system is still routinely being used for embryo selection at the blastocyst stage. The blastocyst expansion grade, as evaluated during morphological assessment, is associated with clinical pregnancy. However, this assessment is performed without taking the dynamics of blastocoel expansion into account. Here, we studied the dynamics of blastocoel expansion by comparing longitudinal blastocoel surface measurements using time-lapse embryo culture. Our aim was to first assess if this is impacted by fertilization method and second, to study if an association exists between these measurement and ongoing pregnancy. Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study including 225 couples undergoing 225 cycles of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment with time-lapse embryo culture. The fertilization method was either conventional IVF, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) with ejaculated sperm or ICSI with sperm derived from testicular sperm extraction (TESE-ICSI). This resulted in 289 IVF embryos, 218 ICSI embryos and 259 TESE-ICSI embryos that reached at least the full blastocyst stage. Blastocoel surface measurements were performed on time-lapse images every hour, starting from full blastocyst formation (tB). Linear mixed model analysis was performed to study the association between blastocoel expansion, the calculated expansion rate (µm2/hour) and both fertilization method and ongoing pregnancy. Results: The blastocoel of both ICSI embryos and TESE-ICSI embryos was significantly smaller than the blastocoel of IVF embryos (beta -1121.6 µm2; 95% CI: -1606.1 to -637.1, beta -646.8 µm2; 95% CI: -1118.7 to 174.8, respectively). Still, the blastocoel of transferred embryos resulting in an ongoing pregnancy was significantly larger (beta 795.4 µm2; 95% CI: 15.4 to 1575.4) and expanded significantly faster (beta 100.9 µm2/hour; 95% CI: 5.7 to 196.2) than the blastocoel of transferred embryos that did not, regardless of the fertilization method. Conclusion: Longitudinal blastocyst surface measurements and expansion rates are promising non-invasive quantitative markers that can aid embryo selection for transfer and cryopreservation. Trial registration: Our study is a retrospective observational study, therefore trial registration is not applicable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number53
JournalReproductive Biology and Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility of the Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


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