Increased mitochondrial distribution in early-cleaving embryos indicate successful pre-implantation development


  • Nor Shahida Abdul Rahman Universiti Teknologi MARA
  • Mimi Sophia Sarbandi Universiti Teknologi MARA
  • Wan Hafizah Wan Jusof Universiti Teknologi MARA
  • Zolkapli Eshak Universiti Teknologi MARA
  • Salina Othman Universiti Teknologi MARA
  • Fathiah Abdullah Universiti Teknologi MARA
  • Yuhaniza Shafinie Kamsani Universiti Teknologi MARA
  • Suzanna Daud Universiti Teknologi MARA
  • Norazilah Mat Jin
  • Nor Ashikin Mohamed Noor Khan Universiti Teknologi MARA



Embryonic development, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, confocal laser scanning microscopy, transmission electron microscopy


The timing of the first zygotic cleavage is an accurate predictor of embryo quality. Embryos that cleaved early have higher developmental viability compared to their late counterparts. During embryonic development, cleavage is affected by cellular metabolic processes performed by mitochondria and its synergistic interaction with endoplasmic reticulum (ER). However, in depth study on differences of mitochondria and ER ultrastructures in early- cleaving (EC) versus late- cleaving (LC) embryos is limited. This study compares mitochondria and ER ultrastructures of EC versus LC embryos using Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). Embryos were obtained from female ICR superovulated mice, 28-30 hours post hCG. Two-cell embryos were categorized as early-cleaving (EC), while zygotes with the second polar body and two pronuclei present were categorized as late-cleaving (LC). The LC embryos were cultured in vitro until the 2- cell stage. In EC embryos, mitochondria were mostly found at the perinuclear region and closely associated with dense ER. Meanwhile, mitochondria of LC embryos were distributed uniformly within the cytoplasm. Mitochondrial fluorescence intensity was significantly higher in EC versus LC [(18.7 ± 0.4) versus (14.6 ± 0.4)] x 105 pixel, (p<0.01). Development to the blastocyst stage was also significantly higher in EC compared to LC embryos (96.7% versus 60.9%) (p<0.01). Higher viability of EC embryos is attributed to the close association of their mitochondria to ER. This contributed to better mitochondrial fission, resulting in enhanced energy generating processes and preimplantation development. 

Author Biographies

Nor Shahida Abdul Rahman, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Maternofetal and Embryo Research Group (MatE), Faculty of Medicine

Mimi Sophia Sarbandi, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Maternofetal and Embryo Research Group (MatE), Faculty of Medicine

Wan Hafizah Wan Jusof, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Maternofetal and Embryo Research Group (MatE), Faculty of Medicine

Zolkapli Eshak, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Faculty of Pharmacy

Salina Othman, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Institute of Medical Molecular Biotechnology (IMMB), 

Fathiah Abdullah, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Institute of Medical Molecular Biotechnology (IMMB)

Yuhaniza Shafinie Kamsani, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Institute of Medical Molecular Biotechnology (IMMB)

Suzanna Daud, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Institute of Medical Molecular Biotechnology (IMMB)

Norazilah Mat Jin

Institute of Medical Molecular Biotechnology (IMMB)

Nor Ashikin Mohamed Noor Khan, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Institute of Medical Molecular Biotechnology (IMMB)


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