Response to recent study “Mitochondrial DNA levels as a marker of embryo viability in IVF”
Recent research into embryo assessment techniques, including data presented at ESHRE this year [Mitochondrial DNA levels as a marker of embryo viability in IVF], suggest that mitochondrial DNA content in the embryo may be predictive of its ability to produce a live birth. However, these studies compared outcomes between patients, which is not how the test will ultimately be applied in practice when taking care of individual patients. In reality, the test will be used to distinguish between embryos from a single cohort of an individual patient, it is important that validation be done in a paired fashion where two embryos from within the same cohort are compared to see if their mitochondrial DNA content can prognosticate the pregnancy outcomes.
A study done at RMANJ under Drs. Richard Scott and Nathan Treff determined whether mitochondrial DNA content could predict which sibling embryo implanted after two embryos were transferred and a single live birth was ultimately achieved. Ultimately, the study demonstrated that mitochondrial DNA quantitation provides no additional selection advantage between euploid sibling embryos in a double embryo transfer model. Furthermore, the findings confirmed that mitochondrial DNA content is associated with variables known to influence reproductive potential such as maternal age. Thus, prior studies which indicated the possible utility of evaluating mitochondrial DNA content when only one embryo was transferred between different patients were likely influenced by these associations. These findings illustrate the importance of adequate control over patient specific variables when assessing the predictive value of any diagnostic tool for embryo assessment.