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Keywords:

  • assisted reproductive techniques;
  • DNA methylation;
  • epigenetics;
  • genomic imprinting

Abstract.

Iliadou AN, Janson PCJ, Cnattingius S (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm; Sweden). Epigenetics and assisted reproductive technology (Review). J Intern Med 2011; 270: 414–420.

During gametogenesis, the female and male germ cells undergo a process whereby imprinting marks are erased from the genome. During the later stages of germ-cell development, the methylation marks of the female and male germ lines are re-established. A second phase of demethylation of the genome occurs at the time of fertilization, and during development of the early embryo. Assisted reproductive technology involves several steps that subject the gametes and early developing embryos to environmental stress, and this is the primary reason for an increased interest in the putative link between these techniques and imprinting disorders. Although animal studies support a link between assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs) and imprinting disorders, via altered methylation patterns, data in humans are inconsistent. Here we provide an overview of the field of epigenetics in relation to ARTs.