Objective: To develop and validate a reliable in vitro culture system for human embryos. Design: Retrospective analyses of a series of four studies were conducted between 2006 and 2010 to assess the effect of incubator type (CO2
box versus Tri-gas minibox), media type, oil type, and hyaluronate supplementation. Optimization of in vitro blastocyst development was verified by assessing our National CDC/ART Surveillance reports between 2010 and 2016. Material and Methods: All patients experienced controlled ovarian hyperstimulation, followed by egg retrieval 35 h post-hCG. Cumulus-oocyte complexes were temporarily cultured in P1 or LG Fert medium plus HSA. Eggs were moved to a more complex media (G-medium or Global®
-LG medium) containing a synthetic protein and embryo adhesion supplement (SPS and EAS, respectively; mLG) post-ICSI insemination. Zygotes were assigned to group culture in 25 µl droplets under oil (light mineral oil or paraffin oil; 37 °C) and embryo development was evaluated on Days 3, 5, and 6 and transferred on Day 3 to 5 depending on the number/quality of embryos available and the IVF history of the patient. Transfers were performed under ultrasound guidance, primarily using a Sureview-Wallace catheter, and enriched ET medium containing 500 µg/mL EAS. Results: Pilot study results (Expt. 1) showed that a mLG single-step medium could be effectively used in combination with Sanyo MCO-5 tri-gas (TG) incubators. Once adapted to SCIRS Lab in 2007 (Expt. 2), the latter culture system yielded improved blastocyst production and pregnancy outcomes compared to CO2
in air sequential incubation in P1/Multi-blast medium. In Expt. 3, the mLG/TG system yielded high levels of ≥2BB quality blastocysts (51 to 66%) across all age groups, and greater (p
< 0.05) pregnancy success/live birth rates using fewer embryos transferred on Day 5 versus Day 3. After validating its clinical effectiveness, mLG was then prospectively compared to a new generation G-media (1.5 & 2.5; Expt. 4) and determined that the crossover treatment using paraffin oil (Ovoil™) allowed the mLG system to be optimized. Subsequently, a compilation of our Annual CDC/ART reported data over six years verified the overall viability of in vitro cultured and vitrified blastocysts produced in the mLG/TG system. Conclusion: By systematically evaluating and implementing various components of an embryo culture system we were able to optimize blastocyst development over the last decade. Our mLG/TG culture system modified an exceptionally well designed KSOMAA
LG medium using endotoxin-free EAS and SPS additives to support cellular membrane wellness under stressful in vitro conditions (e.g., culture, cell biopsy, vitrification). Our use of the mLG/TG culture system has proven to be effective, creating reliably high blastocyst production, implantation, and healthy live births.
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