The quality of embryos and the choice of the one with the best quality is an urgent issue in assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and the animal breeding industry. Although morphological assessments, such as Gardner criteria, are widely used, their objectivity and quantitation remain controversial. As the cellular structure and metabolism change dynamically during preimplantation development, it is desirable to monitor the whole process spatiotemporally based on multidimensional image information. We have developed a novel live-cell imaging methodology for the preimplantation embryo that enables the monitoring of the various events continuously taking place from fertilization to the blastocyst stage. One of advantage of this methodology is that we can see the effect of phenomena observed during imaging on the developmental potential to term, as cellular damage is suppressed in our system. Moreover, it allows the automatic extraction of various parameters from image data using customized algorithms developed by us. Therefore, we consider that this methodology will be a powerful tool for the quantitative analysis of the quality of embryos, and for the determination of the reasons for the attenuation of embryo quality.
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