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When embryology meets genetics: the definition of developmentally incompetent preimplantation embryos (DIPE)—the consensus of two Italian scientific societies


A clear definition of developmentally incompetent preimplantation embryo (DIPE) in literature is still missing, while several scientific societies are discussing this challenging topic. From both a clinical and scientific perspective, the identification of embryos unfit for reproductive purpose is crucial. This aim should be pursued in light of all diagnostic technologies for embryo evaluation, encompassing also genetic analyses, of recent implementation in IVF. The Italian context is characterized by an unusual scenario: embryos can be discarded only if not viable and cannot be used for research purposes either. Therefore, thousands of embryos, diagnosed as affected and/or aneuploid as resulting from preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) and clinically not utilizable, are cryopreserved and stored indefinitely, with important psychological, legal, and financial implications. With the aim of updating the definition of DIPE, also on the basis of the embryo genetic status, the Italian Society of Embryology, Reproduction and Research (SIERR) and the Italian Society of Human Genetic (SIGU) reviewed the literature on this topic, found a consensus, and produced a list of relevant criteria.

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We thank Attilio Anastasi, Emanuele Licata, and Francesca Gioia Klinger for their help in drafting the manuscript and discussing its content. We thank also Dr. Giovanni Coticchio for the constructive comments and general revision of the manuscript.

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DC, AC, CS, and LSF contributed equally to this work. All authors participated in drafting the manuscript, discussed the results, and contributed to the final article. LR, RC, MGM, and AN revised the article critically. RC, LR, and LDS coordinated the working group on behalf of SIERR and DZ on behalf of SIGU.

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Correspondence to Danilo Cimadomo.

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Danilo Cimadomo, Antonio Capalbo, Catello Scarica, Laura Sosa Fernandez, Laura Rienzi, Rosanna Ciriminna, Maria Giulia Minasi, and Lucia De Santis on behalf of the Italian Society of Embryology, Reproduction and Research (SIERR)

Antonio Capalbo, Antonio Novelli and Daniela Zuccarello on behalf of the Italian Society of Human Genetics (SIGU)

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Cimadomo, D., Capalbo, A., Scarica, C. et al. When embryology meets genetics: the definition of developmentally incompetent preimplantation embryos (DIPE)—the consensus of two Italian scientific societies. J Assist Reprod Genet 38, 319–331 (2021).

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  • Developmentally incompetent preimplantation embryo
  • Preimplantation genetic testing
  • Affected embryo
  • Arrested embryo
  • Degenerated embryo