Human Genetics

, Volume 88, Issue 4, pp 367–375

Cytogenetics of human oocytes, zygotes, and embryos after in vitro fertilization

  • Maria Teresa Zenzes
  • Robert F. Casper
Review Article


Chromosome errors, inherited or arising de novo during gametogenesis and transmitted at fertilization to the conceptus, may be a major cause of embryonic mortality. The in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (IVF/ET) procedure provides extra material — oo-cytes, zygotes, and embryos — to investigate the contribution of chromosomal abnormality to implantation failure. This paper reviews the results of cytogenetic studies on such material. Estimates from a total of 1120 oocytes from 11 studies give an overall proportion of chromosomal abnormality of 35%. Single and multiple nullisomies and disomies are found, involving nonrandom chromosome gain or loss. Hypohaploid complements are more frequent than hyperhaploid complements. The higher rate of chromosome loss of hypohaploid karyotypes was found to be largely artifactual. The estimated overall frequency of aneuploidy is 13%. In embryos the level of chromosomal abnormality is 23%–40%. Errors of fertilization are responsible for a substantial number of triploid embryos, many of which develop into mosaics. Factors extrinsic to the conceptus, such as infertility, advanced maternal age, and ovarian hyperstimulation, may increase the level of chromosomal abnormality. More refined methods for accurately recognizing and selecting chromosomally normal embryos for transfer are needed to improve the success rate of this reproductive technology.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Teresa Zenzes
    • 1
  • Robert F. Casper
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Reproductive Science, Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Division of Reproductive ScienceToronto General HospitalTorontoCanada

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