Shah JS, Venturas M, Sanchez TH, Penzias AS, Needleman DJ, Sakkas D. Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) detects differences in metabolic signatures between euploid and aneuploid human blastocysts. Human Reproduction. 2022.
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Abstract:STUDY QUESTION: Can non-invasive imaging with fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) detect metabolic differences in euploid versus aneuploid human blastocysts?
SUMMARY ANSWER: FLIM has identified significant metabolic differences between euploid and aneuploid blastocysts. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Prior studies have demonstrated that FLIM can detect metabolic differences in mouse oocytes and embryos and in discarded human blastocysts. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: This was a prospective observational study from August 2019 to February 2020. Embryo metabolic state was assessed using FLIM to measure the autofluorescence metabolic factors nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide dehydrogenase together with nicotinamide adenine phosphate dinucleotide dehydrogenase (NAD(P)H) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). Eight metabolic FLIM parameters were obtained from each blastocyst (four for NAD(P)H and four for FAD): short (T1) and long (T2) fluorescence lifetime, fluorescence intensity (I) and fraction of the molecules engaged with enzymes (F). The redox ratio (NAD(P)H-I)/(FAD-I) was also calculated for each image.
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: This study was performed at a single academically affiliated centre where there were 156 discarded frozen blastocysts (n ¼ 17 euploids; 139 aneuploids) included. Ploidy status was determined by pre-implantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A). Discarded human blastocysts were compared using single FLIM parameters. Additionally, inner cell mass (ICM) and trophectoderm (TE) were also evaluated. Multilevel models were used for analysis. A post-hoc correction used Benjamini–Hochberg’s false discovery rate, at a q-value of 0.05.
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Comparing euploid (n ¼ 17) versus aneuploid (n ¼ 139) embryos, a significant difference was seen in NAD(P)H-F (P < 0.04), FAD-I (P < 0.04) and redox ratio (P < 0.05). Euploid ICM (n ¼ 15) versus aneuploid ICM (n ¼ 119) also demonstrated significantly different signatures in NAD(P)H-F (P < 0.009), FAD-I (P < 0.03) and redox ratio (P < 0.03). Similarly, euploid TE (n ¼ 15) versus aneuploid TE (n ¼ 119) had significant differences in NAD(P)H-F (P < 0.0001) and FAD-I (P < 0.04).
LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: This study utilized discarded human blastocysts, and these embryos may differ metabolically from non-discarded human embryos. The blastocysts analysed were vitrified after PGT-A biopsy and it is unclear how the vitrification process may affect the metabolic profile of blastocysts. Our study was also limited by the small number of rare donated euploid embryos Euploid embryos are very rarely discarded due to their value to patients trying to conceive, which limits their use for research purposes. However, we controlled for the imbalance with the bootstrap resampling analysis.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: These findings provide preliminary evidence that FLIM may be a useful non-invasive clinical tool to assist in identifying the ploidy status of embryos.
STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): The study was supported by the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator Grant at Harvard University. Becker and Hickl GmbH and Boston Electronics sponsored research with the loaning of equipment for FLIM. D.J.N. is an inventor on patent US20170039415A1. There are no other conflicts of interest to declare.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: N/A Key words: fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy / FLIM / mitochondria / euploid / aneuploid