Main Line Fertility now offers mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) activity screening of IVF embryos undergoing genetic screening. Mitochondrial activity is a biomarker of the energy status of an embryo, and it allows embryologists to select those IVF/PGS embryos with the greatest probability for successful pregnancy.  Mitochondrial activity screening provides a measurement of the normalized mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) content in embryos with the correct number of chromosomes (euploid embryos).  Published studies support the hypothesis that mtDNA copy number is not a direct indicator of energetic capability, rather it is an index of energetic stress and thus it can potentially be used to predict their implantation capacity (Diez-Juan A, Rubio C, et al., 2015).

Mitochondrial activity screening is performed using the same biopsy sample used for preimplantation genetic screening (PGS).  The embryos do not need to be exposed to any interventions apart from those already associated with routine chromosomal screening associated with genetic screening.

The possible advantages of mitochondrial activity screening are the following:

  • increased implantation and pregnancy rate after IVF/PGS
  • reduction in the number of multiple gestations when one embryo is selected for transfer
  • additional information on embryo health in addition to morphological observations and genetic screening

At this time, biopsied embryos must be frozen for future attempt at pregnancy in order for this mitochondrial activity screening to be performed.  Many centers are freezing all biopsied blastocysts for a future FET cycle anyway, because the uterus is thought to be more receptive in an unstimulated cycle (a cycle without fertility medications).  Another advantage of this approach is that the best embryo can be selected from both day 5 and day 6 blastocysts, instead of only day 5 blastocysts.

Banking:  Patients have the opportunity to freeze and bank (or batch) multiple biopsied embryos from several IVF cycles.  When Patients have the desired number of biopsied blastocysts, they can “run” (or analyze) the frozen biopsied cells at the genetics lab, and pay for testing only once.  One or two tested embryo/s can be transferred back to the uterus in a frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle.

It is important to note that not all embryos will develop to the blastocyst stage.  Therefore, patients who have poor embryo quality may not have any embryos to test.

If you would like to learn more call 484-380-4871 or email or you can contact Sharon H. Anderson, PhD at 484-380-4884 or