Efficiency and efficacy of vitrification in 35 654 sibling oocytes from donation cycles.Hum Reprod. 2020 Oct 01; 35(10):2262-2271.HR
Is oocyte vitrification/warming as efficient and effective as using fresh oocytes in donation cycles?
IVF with vitrified donor oocytes is less efficient than using fresh oocytes, but its efficacy remains comparable to that of fresh cycles.
WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY
Oocyte vitrification is used to preserve the reproductive potential of oocytes. A small number of randomized controlled trials carried out by experienced groups have shown that this technique provides fertilization, pregnancy, implantation and ongoing pregnancy rates comparable to those of fresh oocytes. However, large registry-based analyses have consistently reported lower live birth rates (LBRs) in cycles using vitrified oocytes. It is not clear whether this decrease may be due to the effect of vitrification per se on the oocytes or to the lower efficiency of the technique, as some of the oocytes do not survive after warming.
STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION
Retrospective cohort analysis of 1844 cycles of oocyte donation (37 520 oocytes), each donor in the study provided enough oocytes for at least one reception cycle with fresh oocytes (2561 cycles) and one reception cycle with vitrified oocytes (2471 cycles) from the same ovarian stimulation (sibling oocytes). Overall, 35 654 oocytes were considered in the analysis. All embryo transfers (n = 5032) were carried out between 2011 and 2017.
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS
Differences in reproductive outcomes after the first embryo transfer were evaluated using Pearson's Chi-squared test and regression analysis adjusted for recipient's age, BMI, sperm origin and state, day of embryo transfer, morphological score and number of transferred embryos. We performed two additional sub-analyses, to test whether the efficiency and/or effectiveness of vitrification/warming impacts reproductive results. One analysis included paired cycles where the same number of fresh and vitrified oocytes were available for ICSI (SAME sub-analysis), while the second analysis included those cycles with a 100% survival rate post-warming (SAME100 sub-analysis).
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE
Baseline and cycle characteristics of participants were comparable between groups. Overall, fertilization rates and embryo morphological scores were significantly lower (P < 0.001) when using vitrified oocytes; moreover, vitrified oocytes also resulted in lower reproductive outcomes than sibling fresh oocytes using both unadjusted and adjusted analyses: ongoing pregnancy (32.1% versus 37.5%; P < 0.001; OR 0.88, 95% CI 0.77, 1.00) and live birth (32.1% versus 31.9%; P = 0.92; OR 1.16, 95% CI 0.90, 1.49). However, when the efficiency of warming was taken into account, reproductive outcomes in recipients became comparable: ongoing pregnancy (33.5% versus 34.1%; P = 0.82; OR 1.11, 95% CI 0.87, 1.43) and LBR (32.1% versus 32%; P = 0.97; OR 1.15, 95% CI 0.89, 1.48). Moreover, after selecting only cycles that, in addition to having the same number of oocytes available for ICSI, also had 100% post-warming survival rate in the vitrified group, reproductive outcomes were also comparable between fresh and vitrified oocytes: ongoing pregnancy (34.8% versus 32.4%; P = 0.42; OR 1.32, 95% CI 0.98, 1.77) and live birth (32.9% versus 31.0%; P = 0.52; OR 1.27, 95% CI 0.95, 1.71), indicating that reproductive outcomes of these cycles are affected by the efficiency of the vitrification/warming technique performed rather than the oocyte damage due to the fast cooling process to which oocytes are subjected.
LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION
An open vitrification system was used for all cases, and oocyte vitrification/warming was performed by experienced embryologists with consistently high survival rates; caution must be exerted when extrapolating our results to data obtained using other open vitrification systems, closed vitrification systems or to IVF units with survival rates <90%.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS
This is the largest cohort study comparing reproductive outcomes of vitrified and fresh sibling donor oocytes to date. We found that, when the number of oocytes available after warming is equal to the number of fresh oocytes, reproductive results including live birth are comparable. Consequently, the efficiency of vitrification must be taken into account to achieve the same reproductive outcomes as with fresh oocytes. We recommend implementing strict indicators of vitrification/warming efficiency in clinics and refining vitrification/warming protocols to maximize survival.
STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)
This work was supported by intramural funding of Clínica EUGIN and by the Secretary for Universities and Research of the Ministry of Economy and Knowledge of the Government of Catalonia (GENCAT 2015 DI 048). The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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