Development of Human Blastocysts In Vitro

  • Kate Hardy
Part of the Serono Symposia, USA Norwell, Massachusetts book series (SERONOSYMP)


Until recently, relatively little was known about human preimplantation development, mainly due to the inaccessibility of the human embryo after normal conception. In a classic study, some descriptive anatomical and morphological information was obtained from a limited series of embryos both at preimplantation and early postimplantation stages that were fortuitously obtained over many years from uteri removed at hysterectomy (1). However, it was not until the advent of in vitro fertilization (IVF) for the treatment of infertility over a decade ago—whereby techniques were developed to fertilize oocytes in vitro and culture the resulting embryos to early preimplantation stages before transfer back to the oocyte donor— that the human preimplantation embryo became accessible for study. Currently, in the UK, all oocytes retrieved from the patient are inseminated (day 0), and after examination for the presence of 2 pronuclei on day 1 to confirm normal fertilization, embryos are cultured for a further 24 h or 48 h until transfer on day 2 or 3. Two or rarely 3 embryos of the best morphology and most advanced stages of development are transferred. Following ethical approval and after confirming patient’s consent, it is possible to study the remaining surplus embryos, and such research has provided clues as to possible reasons for the low success rate of human IVF.


Human Embryo Blastocyst Stage Inner Cell Mass Preimplantation Embryo Blastocyst Formation 
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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1993

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  • Kate Hardy

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