Cryopreservation of mammalian embryos was initiated in 1972 by the independent experiments of Wilmut (1972) and Whittingham et al. (1972). These studies showed that the slow cooling of early cleavage stage mouse embryos to low subzero temperatures in the presence of dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) and slow warming during the thawing phase, resulted in the survival of embryos and their development to term. Embryos of many other species have been frozen using minor modifications of this technique. Human pre-implantation stage embryos were first successfully cryopreserved by Trounson and Mohr (1983) using a variation of this method and this has resulted in the introduction of embryo cryopreservation into clinical in vitro fertilization (IVF) (Mohr et al. 1985; Trounson 1986) as a way of dealing with the problem of excess embryos (Trounson et al. 1982). Cryopreservation also increases the chance of pregnancy for IVF patients (Fehilly et al. 1985; Trounson 1986) and is an option chosen most frequently by couples in the circumstances of having produced more oocytes or embryos than is required for replacement in the cycle of IVF treatment.
KeywordsCrystallization Toxicity Sucrose Glycerol Lactate
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