Polarized light microscopy-detectable structures of human oocytes and embryos are related to the likelihood of conception in IVF

Emanuela Molinari, Francesca Evangelista, Cinzia Racca, Celeste Cagnazzo, Alberto Revelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: To clarify if birefringent structures of human oocytes and embryos, measurable by polarized light microscopy, have any value in predicting the chance of pregnancy in human in vitro fertilization and may halp to identify the most competent oocytes and embryos. Methods: The inner layer of the zona pellucida (IL-ZP) and the meiotic spindle (MS) were analyzed by polarized light microscopy in 258 oocytes and in the 209 embryos deriving from them. Data obtained from 102 ICSI cycles with conception were compared with those obtained in 156 cycles without conception. The retardance and area of the IL-ZP, as well as the retardance, length of the major axis, and area of the MS were measured. Furthermore, polarized light microscopy parameters were related to the embryo morphological score by multiple regression analysis. Result(s): The mean area of the IL-ZP of both oocytes and embryos was significantly lower in conception than in nonconception cycles (p=0.0001 for oocytes and p=0.002 for embryos). The area of the IL-ZP in embryos was significantly, inversely related to the embryo morphological score (p=0.011). The area, the major axis length and the retarcance of theMS, as well as the retardance of the IL-ZP in oocytes and embryos were comparable in conception and non-conception cycles. Conclusion: The area of the IL-ZP of the human oocytes may represent a marker of oocyte competence, as oocytes with a low IL-ZP area are more frequently obtained in conception cycles. When measured in embryos, a low IL-ZP area identifies embryos with a high chance of implantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1117-1122
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012



  • IVF
  • Meiotic spindle
  • Polarized light microscopy
  • Pregnancy
  • Zona pellucida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

Cite this