Morphological development is the most common non-invasive criterion used to select in vitro human embryos for implantation. With this criterion, however, embryos in cellular arrest go unnoticed. A more accurate criterion is needed to improve the success rate of implantation. Extracellular matrix metalloproteases type 2 (MMP-2) and MMP-9 are key markers of embryonic development and the implantation process, according to various animal studies. The first objective of this study was to examine proMMP-2 and proMMP-9 activity in the culture media of human embryos with good morphological development. Secondly, the results of proMMP-2 and proMMP-9 activity in the culture medium were compared between pregnant and non-pregnant. Forty-two patients were approved by the Ethics and Research Committees of the Instituto Nacional de Perinatología in México City hospital, based on institutional inclusion criteria for in vitro fertilization. On day 5 of development, embryos were transferred to patients, and the culture media secretion profile of proMMP-2 and proMMP-9 activity was determined by substrate gel zymography. After analysis of embryo sac development, each patient was assigned to the pregnant (n=17) or non-pregnant (n=25) group. Our results demonstrate that proMMP-2 was active in the culture media corresponding to all 17 women achieving full-term pregnancy and proMMP-9 in the media corresponding to 11 of these women. Contrarily proMMP-2 and proMMP-9 were active in the culture media corresponding to 3 and 11 of the 25 non-pregnant patients, respectively. The clinical implications of this study suggest the activity evaluation of proMMP-2 and proMMP-9 in embryonic culture media on day 5 of development appears to be a reliable indicator of the quality of embryos and their capacity to establish a pregnancy.

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