Sex-specific epigenetic profile of inner cell mass of mice conceived in vivo or by IVF

Elena Ruggeri, Saúl Lira-Albarrán, Edward J. Grow, Xiaowei Liu, Royce Harner, Emin Maltepe, Miguel Ramalho-Santos, Annemarie Donjacour, Paolo Rinaudo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The preimplantation stage of development is exquisitely sensitive to environmental stresses, and changes occurring during this developmental phase may have long-Term health effects. Animal studies indicate that IVF offspring display metabolic alterations, including hypertension, glucose intolerance and cardiac hypertrophy, often in a sexual dimorphic fashion. The detailed nature of epigenetic changes following in-vitro culture is, however, unknown. This study was performed to evaluate the epigenetic (using whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) and assay for transposase-Accessible chromatin using sequencing (ATAC-seq)) and transcriptomic changes (using RNA-seq) occurring in the inner cell mass (ICM) of male or female mouse embryos generated in vivo or by IVF. We found that the ICM of IVF embryos, compared to the in-vivo ICM, differed in 3% of differentially methylated regions (DMRs), of which 0.1% were located on CpG islands. ATAC-seq revealed that 293 regions were more accessible and 101 were less accessible in IVF embryos, while RNA-seq revealed that 21 genes were differentially regulated in IVF embryos. Functional enrichment analysis revealed that stress signalling (STAT and NF-kB signalling), developmental processes and cardiac hypertrophy signalling showed consistent changes in WGBS and ATAC-seq platforms. In contrast, male and female embryos showed minimal changes. Male ICM had an increased number of significantly hyper-methylated DMRs, while only 27 regions showed different chromatin accessibility and only one gene was differentially expressed. In summary, this study provides the first comprehensive analysis of DNA methylation, chromatin accessibility and RNA expression changes induced by IVF in male and female ICMs. This dataset can be of value to all researchers interested in the developmental origin of health and disease (DOHaD) hypothesis and might lead to a better understanding of how early embryonic manipulation may affect adult health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)866-878
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Dohad
  • Epigenetics
  • In-vitro culture
  • Ivf
  • Preimplantation embryo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Embryology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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