PROBLEM: Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) and insulin have been demonstrated to stimulate oocyte maturation and embryo development. Therefore, the expression of IGFs and their receptors may be an important intrinsic factor for embryo growth and may be a potential marker for embryo quality.
METHOD OF STUDY: Thirty donated day 3 embryos were cultured in vitro for an additional 3 days to observe their developmental potential and were semiquantitatively analyzed for the expression of IGF-I, IGF-II, IGF-IR, IGF-IIR, and insulin-R.
RESULTS: Our results show that the activity of these gene expressions correlates well with the morphological assessment and that high and more gene expressions were often associated with embryos of high growth potential.
CONCLUSION: The IGF system may indeed play an important role in human embryogenesis; IGF gene expressions can be a good indicator of embryonic developmental stage and/or growth potential; finally, the IGF system can serve as a marker for embryo quality.