Novel information about the effects of in vitro fertilization on embryonic growth

June 19, 2018, University of Helsinki

It is known that in vitro fertilization (IVF) can affect the size of the newborns. Children derived from fresh embryo transfer have smaller birth weight, and surprisingly, children derived from frozen embryo transfer have subtly higher birth weight in average.

In the study conducted by University of Helsinki, Helsinki University Hospital and University of Tartu, the researchers looked for mechanisms how the IVF can alter the embryonic growth. More than three percent of newborns are derived from IVF treatments currently in Finland.

86 couples with IVF derived pregnancies and 157 couples with spontaneous pregnancies as controls were recruited for this study. IVF samples were divided in two groups depending on whether the embryos were transferred in utero fresh after fertilization, or after they were frozen and thawed before the .

The regulation region of two growth genes, insulin-like growth factor 2 and H19 was examined. A in this region has been associated with different amount of epigenetic marks depending on which variants an individual has inherited from the parents.

DNA methylation, the most well-known epigenetic mark was investigated in this study. These methyl groups bind to the DNA strand and affect the gene function.

"We divided the placentas in genotypes according to the variants which the newborns had inherited, and we observed that the effect of IVF on the depends on the genotype." explains Adjunct professor Nina Kaminen-Ahola, the leader of the research team at the University of Helsinki.

Furthermore, the and placental weight as well as the head circumference of newborns, which were derived from fresh , were smaller only in one particular genotype. Also, the newborns with this genotype, who were derived from , were significantly heavier.

"This work together with our previous work about the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on embryonic development, reveals a genotype-specific effects of environmental factors." states Kaminen-Ahola. "As far as I know, this is the first genetic factor which has been associated with the phenotype of IVF-derived ".

"This single nucleotide polymorphism locates in the binding site of a regulatory protein, and thus could affect the binding of the protein as well as gene function in altered environmental conditions. However, the effect of this variation on the regulation of these growth genes should be examined by functional studies."

Kaminen-Ahola emphasizes that these changes are not dangerous and IVF treatments are safe. "Low birth has been associated with increased risk for heart and vascular diseases and therefore it is necessary to understand the mechanisms underlying it to develop the IVF methods".

"In the future, this could be a part of personalized medicine and help to target the sources of health care system more specifically."

Explore further: Researchers identify a candidate genetic factor for the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure

More information: Heidi Marjonen et al, rs10732516 polymorphism at the IGF2/H19 locus associates with genotype-specific effects on placental DNA methylation and birth weight of newborns conceived by assisted reproductive technology, Clinical Epigenetics (2018). DOI: 10.1186/s13148-018-0511-2

Related Stories

Researchers identify a candidate genetic factor for the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure

October 6, 2017
Researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland, have found a genetic variation associated with the damage caused by maternal alcohol consumption. This genetic variation clarifies the role of genetic factors in alcohol-induced ...

Frozen embryos result in just as many live births in IVF

January 10, 2018
Freezing and subsequent transfer of embryos gives infertile couples just as much of a chance of having a child as using fresh embryos for in vitro fertilization (IVF), research from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Adelaide, ...

Frozen embryos more successful for conceiving during IVF

March 19, 2018
A new study carried out by a research team at The University of Western Australia and Fertility Specialists of Western Australia has found that women undergoing IVF who have had embryos fail to implant have more success using ...

National study identifies best method for achieving a healthy IVF birth

November 1, 2017
Research presented today at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) by scientists from the University of Colorado and Duke University concludes that fresh donor eggs during in vitro fertilization (IVF) provide ...

Frozen embryo transfer leads to larger and heavier babies

July 5, 2011
Two studies from France and Denmark have shown that children born after frozen embryo transfer are larger and heavier. The risk for a baby to be too heavy for its gestational age at birth is increased 1.6 fold compared to ...

Frozen embryo transfer versus fresh embryo transfer: What's riskier?

May 1, 2018
Large for gestational age babies and congenital heart defects (CHD) are just two of several risks needing further examination in the emerging field of assisted reproductive technology, according to the editors of a special ...

Recommended for you

Progress in genetic testing of embryos stokes fears of designer babies

November 16, 2018
Recent announcements by two biotechnology companies have stoked fears that designer babies could soon be an option for those who can afford to pick and choose which features they want for their offspring. The companies, MyOme ...

Gene editing possible for kidney disease

November 16, 2018
For the first time scientists have identified how to halt kidney disease in a life-limiting genetic condition, which may pave the way for personalised treatment in the future.

DICE: Immune cell atlas goes live

November 15, 2018
Compare any two people's DNA and you will find millions of points where their genetic codes differ. Now, scientists at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) are sharing a trove of data that will be critical for deciphering ...

Ashkenazi Jewish founder mutation identified for Leigh Syndrome

November 15, 2018
Over 30 years ago, Marsha and Allen Barnett lost their sons to a puzzling childhood disease that relentlessly attacked their nervous systems and sapped their energy. After five-year-old Chuckie died suddenly in 1981, doctors ...

Drug candidate may recover vocal abilities lost to ADNP syndrome

November 15, 2018
Activity-dependent neuroprotective protein syndrome (ADNP syndrome) is a rare genetic condition that causes developmental delays, intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder symptoms in thousands of children worldwide. ...

The puzzle of a mutated gene lurking behind many Parkinson's cases

November 15, 2018
Genetic mutations affecting a single gene play an outsized role in Parkinson's disease. The mutations are generally responsible for the mass die-off of a set of dopamine-secreting, or dopaminergic, nerve cells in the brain ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.