Measuring embryo metabolism to predict embryo quality

Jeremy G. Thompson, Hannah M. Brown, Melanie L. Sutton-McDowall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Measuring the metabolism of early embryos has the potential to be used as a prospective marker for post-transfer development, either alone or in conjunction with other embryo quality assessment tools. This is necessary to maximise the opportunity of couples to have a healthy child from assisted reproduction technology (ART) and for livestock breeders to efficiently improve the genetics of their animals. Nevertheless, although many promising candidate substrates (e.g. glucose uptake) and methods (e.g. metabolomics using different spectroscopic techniques) have been promoted as viability markers, none has yet been widely used clinically or in livestock production. Herein we review the major techniques that have been reported; these are divided into indirect techniques, where measurements are made from the embryo's immediate microenvironment, or direct techniques that measure intracellular metabolic activity. Both have strengths and weaknesses, the latter ruling out some from contention for use in human ART, but not necessarily for use in livestock embryo assessment. We also introduce a new method, namely multi-(or hyper-) spectral analysis, which measures naturally occurring autofluorescence. Several metabolically important molecules have fluorescent properties, which we are pursuing in conjunction with improved image analysis as a viable embryo quality assessment methodology. Journal compilation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-50
Number of pages10
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Autofluorescence
  • Embryo metabolism
  • Embryo quality
  • Spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology
  • Developmental Biology

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