What happens to abnormally fertilized embryos? A scoping review
Reproductive BioMedicine Online
School of Medical and Health Sciences
A dearth of evidence exists on embryos derived from oocytes without two pronuclei (2PN) or ‘normal fertilization’, i.e. embryos arising from non-pronuclear oocytes (0PN), mono-pronuclear oocytes (1PN) and tri-pronuclear oocytes (3PN). We searched the published literature on non-2PN oocytes and their clinical outcomes using a two-part collection strategy of relevant articles. A total of 33 articles were deemed eligible for the scoping review. A significant difference exists between potential development of oocytes with an abnormal number of pronuclei and those with 2PN in most studies; the abnormal pronuclei oocytes occur rarely and significant attrition occurs between day 1 and day 6, with corresponding reduction in chromosome integrity and clinical utility. Most recent studies describe outcomes of blastocysts derived from non-2PN oocytes, rather than cleavage stage embryo transfers. Compared with 2PN oocytes, blastocyst rates are lower in 1PN oocytes (68.3 versus 32.2%), with larger 1PN oocytes having better developmental potential compared with their smaller counterparts. Blastocysts from 1PN oocytes seem to have a slightly reduced implantation potential compared with those from 2PN blastocysts (33.3% versus 35.9%), with a reduced ongoing pregnancy rate (27.3% versus 28.1%). Live birth rates were only reported in 13 of the included studies. The comparators varied between studies, with live birth rates provided ranging from 0–66.7%, with two case reports (100%); this is a clear indication of the variability in practices and the significant heterogeneity of studies. A distinct lack of evidence exists on non-2PN oocytes; however, it seems that most abnormally fertilized oocytes that are non-viable will developmentally arrest in culture, and those that are viable can form viable pregnancies. Concerns remain about the outcome of pregnancies arising from the use of abnormally fertilized oocytes. Coupled with appropriate outcome measures, abnormally fertilized oocytes hold the potential to increase the pool of embryos eligible for transfer.