Copyright © 2014 Reproductive Healthcare Ltd. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This is a retrospective study aiming to assess telomere length in human embryos 4 days post fertilization and to determine whether it is correlated to chromosomal ploidy, embryo developmental rate and patient age. Embryos were donated from patients undergoing treatment in the assisted conception unit. Seven couples took part, generating 35 embryos consisting of 1130 cells. Quantitative fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH) measured the telomere length of every cell using a pan-telomeric probe. Conventional FISH on six chromosomes was used to assess aneuploidy in the same cells. Maternal and paternal age, referral reason, embryo developmental rate and type of chromosomal error were taken into account. Chromosomally abnormal cells were associated with shorter telomeres than normal cells for embryos that were developmentally slow. Cells produced by women of advanced maternal age and those with a history of repeated miscarriage tended to have substantially shorter telomeres. There was no significant difference in telomere length with respect to the rate of embryo development 5 days post fertilization. Telomeres play an important role in cell division and shorter telomeres may affect embryonic ploidy. Reduced telomere length was associated with aneuploid cells and embryos from women of advanced maternal age.