Posthumous assisted reproduction policies among a cohort of United States' inÂ vitro fertilization clinics
Objective/UNASSIGNED:To assess the presence and content of policies toward posthumous assisted reproduction (PAR) using oocytes and embryos among Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) member clinics in the United States. Design/UNASSIGNED:Cross-sectional questionnaire-based study. Setting/UNASSIGNED:Not applicable. Patients/UNASSIGNED:A total of 62 SART member clinics. Interventions/UNASSIGNED:Questionnaire including multiple choice and open-ended questions. Main Outcome Measures/UNASSIGNED:Descriptive statistics regarding presence and content of policies regarding PAR using oocytes and embryos, consent document content regarding oocyte and embryo disposition, and eligibility of minors and those with terminal illness for fertility preservation. Results/UNASSIGNED:Of the 332 clinics contacted, 62 responded (response rate 18.7%). Respondents were distributed across the United States, and average volume of inÂ vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles per year ranged from <250 to >1,500, but 71.2% (n = 42) reported a volume of <500. Nearly one-half (42.4%, n = 25) of clinics surveyed reported participating in any cases of posthumous reproduction during the past 5 years, and 6.8% (n = 4) reported participation in >5 cases. Participation in cases of posthumous reproduction was not significantly associated with practice type or IVF cycle volume among those surveyed. Only 59.6% (n = 34) of clinics surveyed had written policies regarding PAR using oocytes or embryos, whereas 36.8% (n = 21) reported they did not have a policy. Practice type, IVF cycle volume, fertility preservation volume, and prior participation in cases of PAR were not significantly associated with the presence of a policy among respondent clinics. Of those with a policy, 55.9% (n = 19) reported they had used that policy, 59.1% (n = 13) without a policy reported they had considered adopting one, and 63.6% (n = 14) reported they had received a request for PAR services. Only 47.2% (n = 25) of clinics surveyed specified that patients not expected to survive to use oocytes due to terminal illness are eligible for oocyte cryopreservation, whereas 45.3% (n = 24) did not specify. Conclusions/UNASSIGNED:Respondent clinics reported receiving an increasing number of requests for PAR services, but many also lacked PAR policies. Those with policies did not always follow ASRM recommendations. Given the low response rate, these data cannot be interpreted as representative of SART clinics overall. As PAR cases become more common, however, this study highlights poor reporting of PAR and institutional policies toward PAR, suggesting that SART clinics may not be equipped to systematically manage the complexities of PAR.
TCF12 haploinsufficiency causes autosomal dominant Kallmann syndrome and reveals network-level interactions between causal loci
Dysfunction of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) axis causes a range of reproductive phenotypes resulting from defects in the specification, migration and/or function of GnRH neurons. To identify additional molecular components of this system, we initiated a systematic genetic interrogation of families with isolated gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) deficiency (IGD). Here we report thirteen families (twelve autosomal dominant, and one autosomal recessive) with an anosmic form of IGD (Kallmann syndrome; KS) with loss-of-function mutations in TCF12, a locus also known to cause syndromic and non-syndromic craniosynostosis. We show that loss of tcf12 in zebrafish larvae perturbs GnRH neuronal patterning with concomitant attenuation of the orthologous expression of tcf3a/b, encoding a binding partner of TCF12; and stub1, a gene that is both mutated in other syndromic forms of IGD and maps to a TCF12 affinity network. Finally, we report that restored STUB1 mRNA rescues loss of tcf12 in vivo. Our data extend the mutational landscape of IGD; highlight the genetic links between craniofacial patterning and GnRH dysfunction; and begin to assemble the functional network that regulates the development of the GnRH axis.
Characteristics and Outcomes of 241 Births to Women With Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Infection at Five New York City Medical Centers
OBJECTIVE:To describe the characteristics and birth outcomes of women with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection as community spread in New York City was detected in March 2020. METHODS:We performed a prospective cohort study of pregnant women with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection who gave birth from March 13 to April 12, 2020, identified at five New York City medical centers. Demographic and clinical data from delivery hospitalization records were collected, and follow-up was completed on April 20, 2020. RESULTS:Among this cohort (241 women), using evolving criteria for testing, 61.4% of women were asymptomatic for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) at the time of admission. Throughout the delivery hospitalization, 26.5% of women met World Health Organization criteria for mild COVID-19, 26.1% for severe, and 5% for critical. Cesarean birth was the mode of delivery for 52.4% of women with severe and 91.7% with critical COVID-19. The singleton preterm birth rate was 14.6%. Admission to the intensive care unit was reported for 17 women (7.1%), and nine (3.7%) were intubated during their delivery hospitalization. There were no maternal deaths. Body mass index (BMI) 30 or higher was associated with COVID-19 severity (P=.001). Nearly all newborns tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 infection immediately after birth (97.5%). CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:During the first month of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in New York City and with evolving testing criteria, most women with laboratory-confirmed infection admitted for delivery did not have symptoms of COVID-19. Almost one third of women who were asymptomatic on admission became symptomatic during their delivery hospitalization. Obesity was associated with COVID-19 severity. Disease severity was associated with higher rates of cesarean and preterm birth.
Telomere erosion as a placental clock: From placental pathologies to adverse pregnancy outcomes
The placenta provides nutritional and gas exchange between fetus and mother. Early in pregnancy, placental trophoblasts proliferate rapidly and invade aggressively. As pregnancy progresses, placental cells begin to age. Indeed, pregnancy itself has a tightly regulated duration, determined in large part by placental lifespan. Late in pregnancy, placental cells reach a senescent apoptotic state, activated by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, including oxidative stress (OS), and DNA damage. Pregnancy complications, stillbirths and neonatal deaths have been related to OS and abnormal placental aging. Telomeres, the protective nucleoprotein structures at the ends of linear chromosomes, shorten both from cell replication and from exposure to OS. When telomeres become critically short they trigger cell cycle arrest and eventually cell death. Telomere attrition thus provide an intrinsic mechanism to explain tissue senescence and aging. Mounting evidence suggests that senescence of placental and fetal membrane cells results from telomere attrition. We review the studies that have addressed the role of telomere length (TL) in placentas from normal and complicated pregnancies, including pre-eclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes, and stillbirth. To date studies have uncovered associations between TL and a number of obstetrical complications. Future research is needed to determine whether these associations are causative, i.e. whether these clinical conditions result from telomere dysfunction, and whether particular features of telomeres, e.g. mean or shortest length, etc. could serve as clinically useful biomarkers of placental health.
Telomere Length and Telomerase Activity in Immature Oocytes and Cumulus Cells of Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Metaphase II oocytes (MII) from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) frequently have impaired oocyte competence. Since telomere maintenance is important for folliculogenesis, oocyte maturation, and early embryonic development, we sought to verify the implications of PCOS on telomere length and telomerase activity in immature oocytes and cumulus cells. 43 PCOS and 67 control women were included, and anthropometric, biochemical, and hormonal characteristics were evaluated. The telomere length in germinal vesicle stage (GV) and in metaphase I (MI) oocytes, as well as in the cumulus cells of immature (CCI) and mature oocytes (CCM), and in leukocytes was measured by qPCR. The telomerase activity in reproductive cells was evaluated by the TRAPezeÂ® XL Kit. The body mass index (pâ€‰=â€‰0.001), LH (pâ€‰=â€‰0.015), estradiol (pâ€‰=â€‰0.004), insulin (pâ€‰=â€‰0.002), testosterone (pâ€‰<â€‰0.0001), androstenedione (pâ€‰=â€‰0.001), free androgen index (pâ€‰<â€‰0.0001), and c-reactive protein (pâ€‰=â€‰0.003) were greater, while the FSH (pâ€‰=â€‰0.0002) was lower in the PCOS group. The telomere length in the CCI (pâ€‰=â€‰0.649) and CCM (pâ€‰=â€‰0.378) did not differ between the PCOS and the control groups. On the other hand, telomerase activity in the CCI (pâ€‰=â€‰0.003) and CCM (pâ€‰=â€‰0.022) was higher in the PCOS group. In the leukocyte's cells, the telomere length was reduced in the PCOS group (pâ€‰=â€‰0.025). In the GV and MI oocytes, no differences were observed in telomere length and telomerase activity between the groups. We showed that telomere length is not altered in reproductive cells from PCOS. However, higher telomerase activity in the CCI and CCM may be required for telomere length maintenance.
Impaired reproductive function and fertility preservation in a woman with a dyskeratosis congenita
PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE:To determine the impact of accelerated telomere shortening on the fertility parameters and treatment outcomes of a woman with dyskeratosis congenita (DKC). METHODS:A case study of the clinical data, blood, discarded oocytes, and arrested embryos of a woman with DKC and donated cryopreserved embryos from unaffected patients. Mean telomere length in blood cells was analyzed by flow cytometry-fluorescence in situ hybridization (flow-FISH) and qPCR. The load of short telomeres in blood cells was measured by universal single telomere length analysis (Universal STELA). The mean telomere length in embryos was analyzed by single-cell amplification of telomere repeats (SCATR) PCR. RESULTS:Comparison of clinical parameters revealed that the DKC patient had reduced anti-Mullerian hormone (0.3 vs 4.1â€‰Â±â€‰5.7Â ng/ML), reduced oocytes retrieved (7 vs 18.5â€‰Â±â€‰9.5), reduced fertilization rate, and reduced euploidy rate relative to unaffected patients. Additionally, mean telomere length in DKC embryos were shorter than unaffected embryos. However, hormone treatment led to increased leukocyte telomere length, while the load of short telomeres was also shown to decrease during the course of treatment. CONCLUSIONS:We demonstrate for the first time the direct detrimental impacts of short telomeres on female fertility. We further demonstrate positive effects of hormone treatments for people with telomere disorders.
Human transposon insertion profiling by sequencing (TIPseq) to map LINE-1 insertions in single cells
Long interspersed element-1 (LINE-1, L1) sequences, which comprise about 17% of human genome, are the product of one of the most active types of mobile DNAs in modern humans. LINE-1 insertion alleles can cause inherited and de novo genetic diseases, and LINE-1-encoded proteins are highly expressed in some cancers. Genome-wide LINE-1 mapping in single cells could be useful for defining somatic and germline retrotransposition rates, and for enabling studies to characterize tumour heterogeneity, relate insertions to transcriptional and epigenetic effects at the cellular level, or describe cellular phylogenies in development. Our laboratories have reported a genome-wide LINE-1 insertion site mapping method for bulk DNA, named transposon insertion profiling by sequencing (TIPseq). There have been significant barriers applying LINE-1 mapping to single cells, owing to the chimeric artefacts and features of repetitive sequences. Here, we optimize a modified TIPseq protocol and show its utility for LINE-1 mapping in single lymphoblastoid cells. Results from single-cell TIPseq experiments compare well to known LINE-1 insertions found by whole-genome sequencing and TIPseq on bulk DNA. Among the several approaches we tested, whole-genome amplification by multiple displacement amplification followed by restriction enzyme digestion, vectorette ligation and LINE-1-targeted PCR had the best assay performance. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'Crossroads between transposons and gene regulation'.
The reproducibility of trophectoderm biopsies in euploid, aneuploid, and mosaic embryos using independently verified next-generation sequencing (NGS): a pilot study
PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE:To assess the accuracy and reliability of comprehensive chromosome screening by next-generation sequencing (NGS) of human trophectoderm (TE) biopsy specimens. METHODS:The reliability and accuracy of diagnoses made by preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A) from TE biopsy were tested. Repeat biopsies of TE and inner cell mass (ICM) samples were obtained from thawed blastocysts previously tested by NGS. To test for the reliability of the NGS assay, biopsy samples were compared with the original PGT-A results. Prior NGS testing classified the TE samples as euploid, aneuploid, or aneuploid-mosaic. The resulting re-biopsied samples underwent SurePlex whole genome amplification followed by NGS via the MiSeq platform, with copy number value (CNV) determined using BlueFuse Multi Software. The primary outcome measure was reliability, defined as concordance between initial TE result and the repeat biopsies. Accuracy was determined by concordance between the TE and ICM samples, and compared between three chromosome types (disomic, aneuploid, and mosaic). RESULTS:Re-biopsies were performed on 32 embryos with prior PGT-A showing euploidy (10 embryos), aneuploidy of one or two chromosomes (4 embryos), or aneuploid-mosaic with one aneuploid chromosome and one mosaic chromosome (18 embryos). One hundred twenty-nine biopsy samples completed NGS (90 TE and 39 ICM biopsies) and 105 biopsy results were included in the analysis. TE biopsies provide a highly accurate test of the future fetus, with the ICM disomic concordance rate of 97.6%. Clinical concordance rates indicate that TE biopsies provide a reliable test when the result is euploid (99.5%) or aneuploid (97.3%), but less reliable when the result is mosaic (35.2%). CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:TE biopsies predict euploidy or aneuploidy in the ICM with a high degree of accuracy. PGT-A with NGS of TE biopsies is shown to be highly reliable, with clinically relevant concordance rates for aneuploidy and euploidy over 95%. TE biopsies indicating mosaicism were less reliable (35.2%), presumably because mitotic non-disjunction events are not uniformly distributed throughout the blastocyst. However, classification of TE biopsy of PGT-A with NGS results as either aneuploid or euploid provides a highly reliable test.
Widespread Transcriptional Scanning in the Testis Modulates Gene Evolution Rates
The testis expresses the largest number of genesÂ ofÂ any mammalian organ, a finding that has long puzzled molecular biologists. Our single-cell transcriptomic data of human and mouse spermatogenesis provide evidence that this widespread transcription maintains DNA sequence integrity in the male germline by correcting DNA damage through a mechanism we term transcriptional scanning. We find that genes expressed during spermatogenesis display lower mutation rates on the transcribed strand and have low diversity in the population. Moreover, this effect is fine-tuned by the level of gene expression during spermatogenesis. The unexpressed genes, which in our model do not benefit from transcriptional scanning, diverge faster over evolutionary timescales and are enriched for sensory and immune-defense functions. Collectively, we propose that transcriptional scanning shapes germline mutation signatures and modulates mutation rates in a gene-specific manner, maintaining DNA sequence integrity for the bulk of genes but allowing for faster evolution in a specific subset.
Gli3 regulates vomeronasal neurogenesis, olfactory ensheathing cell formation and GnRH-1 neuronal migration
During mammalian development, gonadotropin-releasing-hormone-1 neurons (GnRH-1ns) migrate from the developing vomeronasal organ (VNO) into the brain asserting control of pubertal onset and fertility. Recent data suggest that correct development of the olfactory ensheathing cells (OEC) is imperative for normal GnRH-1 neuronal migration. However, the full ensemble of molecular pathways that regulate OEC development remains to be fully deciphered. Loss-of-function of the transcription factor Gli3 is known to disrupt olfactory development, however, if Gli3 plays a role in GnRH-1 neuronal development is unclear. By analyzing Gli3 extra-toe mutants (Gli3Xt/Xt), we found that Gli3 loss-of-function compromises the onset of achaete-scute family bHLH transcription factor 1 (Ascl-1) positive vomeronasal progenitors and the formation of OEC in the nasal mucosa. Surprisingly, GnRH-1 neurogenesis was intact in Gli3Xt/Xt mice but they displayed significant defects in GnRH-1 neuronal migration. In contrast, Ascl-1null mutants showed reduced neurogenesis for both vomeronasal and GnRH-1ns but less severe defects in OEC development. These observations suggest that Gli3 is critical for OEC development in the nasal mucosa and subsequent GnRH-1 neuronal migration. However, the non-overlapping phenotypes between Ascl-1 and Gli3 mutants indicate that Ascl-1, while crucial for GnRH-1 neurogenesis, is not required for normal OEC development. Since Kallmann syndrome (KS) is characterized by abnormal GnRH-1ns migration, we examined whole exome sequencing data from KS subjects. We identified and validated a GLI3 loss-of-function variant in a KS individual. These findings provide new insights into GnRH-1 and OECs development and demonstrate that human GLI3 mutations contribute to KS etiology.Significance statement. The transcription factor Gli3 is necessary for correct development of the olfactory system. However, if Gli3 plays a role in controlling GnRH-1 neuronal development has not been addressed. We found that Gli3 loss-of-function compromises the onset of Ascl-1+ vomeronasal progenitors, formation of olfactory ensheathing cells in the nasal mucosa, and impairs GnRH-1 neuronal migration to the brain. By analyzing Ascl-1null mutants we dissociated the neurogenic defects observed in Gli3 mutants from lack of olfactory ensheathing cells in the nasal mucosa, moreover, we discovered that Ascl-1 is necessary for GnRH-1 ontogeny. Analyzing human whole exome sequencing data, we identified a GLI3 loss-of-function variant in a KS individual. Our data suggest that GLI3 is a candidate gene contributing to KS etiology.