In Vitro Assessment of Blastocyst Differentiation

  • Eric W. Overström


It is generally agreed that one of the most critical periods of embryonic development in mammals occurs during the first weeks of gestation. During this early window of development, which is characterized by embryo cleavage, blastulation and gastrulation events, up to 60 percent of pregnancies fail, either totally (uniparous animals) or in part (multiparous animals), depending on species. Hammond (1914) first reported that a significant proportion of pig and rabbit embryos die during early intrauterine development. It was suggested that embryonic death reflected nature’s evolutionary selection process by favoring those embryos which possessed a more competent genetic character. More recently Biggers (1983), in re-evaluating earlier data of Hertig et al. (1959) concerning embryonic mortality in humans, concluded that the intrauterine mortality rate is highest (42–55%) during the period of preimplantation development. Similarly, on average, greater than 33% of fertilized pig embryos do not survive the first 3 weeks of gestation (Day et al., 1959; Perry and Rowlands, 1962; Hafez, 1974; Hafez et al., 1965; Anderson, 1978). Since the incidence of fertilization is high in most mammals (90 to 100%), it is generally agreed that a significant percentage of pregnancy loss is due to early embryonic death. Thus, while our overall understanding of the mechanisms that regulate embryogenesis has increased markedly over the years, the direct relationship between specific cellular processes and embryo mortality/ survivability rates in vivo have not, as yet, been clearly delineated.


Oxygen Consumption Rate Preimplantation Development Basolateral Plasma Membrane Mouse Blastocyst Embryonic Mortality 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric W. Overström
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, Schools of Medicine and Veterinary MedicineTufts UniversityBostonUSA

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