Implantation Promoting Medium
For pregnancy to occur, the developing embryo must implant into the lining of the female’s uterus (endometrium). The series of scientific events involved in implantation are highly complex.
However, research has shown that a glycoprotein called hyaluronan plays an important role in assisting embryos to implant. Hyaluronan is a naturally occurring substance found in the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes.
Hyaluronan appears to assist implantation in several ways:
a) By increasing the cell to cell adhesion of the embryo and uterus lining.
b) Interaction with growth factors that facilitate implantation
c) The by-products of hyaluronan promote angiogenesis – the growth of new blood vessels
d) Human oocytes and embryos have surface receptors for hyaluronan
e) Hyaluronan may play a role in preparing the endometrium for implantation to be more receptive to embryos
Studies in Colorado showed that the addition of hyaluronan to the embryo transfer media significantly improved the implantation rate of human embryos (Schoolcraft et al., 2002) More recent studies (Urman at al., 2008), have showed an increase in pregnancy rates when embryos were transferred at either the cleavage stage or the blastocyst stage in a hyaluronan enriched transfer media.
Based on these findings commercial media containing hyaluronan have been developed to maximise implantation of IVF embryos. The embryos which are selected for transfer are placed in a small volume of this transfer media. When the transfer procedure takes place the embryos are loaded into the transfer catheter along with a tiny volume of the transfer media and released into the female’s uterus.
Although one of the names of these media suggests that it can glue the embryos in place this is not the case. Hyaluronan transfer media does not guarantee implantation but may assist it. There is some evidence to suggest that females over the age of 38 years show the most benefit with a significant increase in pregnancy rates when a transfer media with hyaluronan is used (Balaban et el., 2004). There have also been studies that indicate frozen/thawed embryos may have increased pregnancy rates when transferred in a hyaluronan transfer media.
City Fertility Centre was one of the first clinics in Australia to introduce the use of Embryo Glue®. Should you wish to discuss the use of this media in your treatment cycle please contact the City Fertility scientists or your treating doctor.
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