Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) detects differences in metabolic signatures between euploid and aneuploid human blastocysts

Created Date: 2023-02-27 Hits: 117
Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) detects differences in metabolic signatures between euploid and aneuploid human blastocysts

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 the 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 center where there were 156 discarded frozen blastocysts (n = 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 Benjamin–Hochberg’s false discovery rate, at a q-value of 0.05.

Main results and the role of chance

Comparing euploid (n = 17) versus aneuploid (n = 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 = 15) versus aneuploid ICM (n = 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 = 15) versus aneuploid TE (n = 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 analyzed 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 available for analysis. 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.


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