Cyclic fertilin-derived peptide stimulates in vitro human embryo development.


Objective: To study the cyclic fertilin peptide effects on preimplantation human embryogenesis. Cyclic fertilin peptide reproduces the structure of the binding site of the sperm Fertilin β (also named A Disintegrin and Metalloprotease 2: ADAM2) disintegrin domain. It binds to the oocyte membrane and increases sperm-oocyte fusion index in human and fertilization rate in mouse, providing healthy pups. It also improves human oocyte maturation and chromosome segregation in meiosis I and binds to human embryo blastomeres, suggesting that it has a membrane receptor.

Design: Thawed human embryos at the 3 to 4 cells stage were randomly included in a dose-response study with cyclic fertilin peptide. Inner cell mass (ICM), trophectoderm (TE), and total cell numbers were evaluated in top- and good-quality blastocysts.

Setting: The study was performed in an academic hospital and research laboratory.

Patient(s): Human embryos donated for research. This project was approved by the French « Agence de la Biomédecine. »

Intervention(s): Immunofluorescence and tissue-specific gene expression analysis, using Clariom D microarrays, were performed to study its mechanism of action.

Main outcome measure(s): Cyclic fertilin peptide improves blastocyst formation by almost 20%, the concentration of 1 μM being the lowest most efficient concentration. It significantly increases twice the TE cell number, without modifying the ICM. It increases the in vitro hatching rate from 14% to 45%.

Result(s): Cyclic fertilin peptide stimulates TE growth. In the ICM, it induces transcriptional activation of intracellular protein and vesicle-mediated transport.

Conclusion(s): Cyclic fertilin peptide dramatically improves human embryo development potential. It could be used to supplement culture medium and improve the in vitro human embryo development. Starting supplementation immediately after fertilization, instead of day 2, could significantly upgrade assisted reproductive technology outcome.