IVF-laboratories all over the world culture preimplantation embryos under different conditions. However, the effects of in vitro culture (IVC) on the developing embryo and the offspring are not fully understood. Animal studies show an effect of IVC on the developmental potential of preimplantation embryos and on postnatal phenotype including increased blood pressure and behavioural alterations. In human, IVC protocols were mainly investigated for their effect on embryonic development and pregnancy parameters, until our group showed an effect of culture medium on human foetal growth. This urges for more knowledge on the mechanisms behind this IVC effect and the interaction between the environment and the embryonic (epi)genotype.
In collaboration with UMCG (Groningen) and AMC (Amsterdam), we investigate the effect of IVF culture medium and oxygen concentration on gene expression profiles in human preimplantation embryos. These studies will increase the knowledge about the processes involved in human preimplantation embryonic development that can lead to an improvement of the IVF results and eventually the outcome of the offspring.