Non-invasive nuclear magnetic resonance analysis of male and female embryo metabolites during in vitro embryo culture

Marcello Rubessa, Andrea Ambrosi, Dianelys Gonzalez-Pena, Kathryn M. Polkoff, Matthew B. Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: In the past 20+ years, several studies of bovine embryo production showed how the ratio of male to female embryos changes if embryos are made in vivo or in vitro. It is known that in in vitro systems, the sex ratio is in favor of males when there are high levels of glucose, and favors females when the principal energetic substrate is one other than glucose, like citrate. Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the embryo metabolism during three important periods of in vitro development: the early development (from day 1 until day 3), the middle of culture (day 3 until day 5), and later development (day 5 until day 7). Methods: To obtain this information we evaluated the spent medium from each time period by 1 H NMR. Results: Our results confirm that embryo metabolism is different between sexes. The new information obtained by identifies markers that we can use to predict the embryo sex. Conclusion: These results open a new, non-invasive method to evaluate sex of the embryos before the transfer. In the first period of embryo culture, valine concentration is good indicator (66.7% accurate), while in the last phase of culture, pyruvate depletion is the best marker (64% accurate) to evaluate the sex of the embryo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Development
  • Embryo
  • Gender selection
  • In vitro fertilization
  • Livestock

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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