Automated or semiautomated time-lapse analysis of early stage embryo images during the cleavage stage can give insight into the timing of mitosis, regularity of both division timing and pattern, as well as cell lineage. Simultaneous monitoring of molecular processes enables the study of connections between genetic expression and cell physiology and development. The study of live embryos poses not only new requirements on the hardware and embryo-holding equipment but also indirectly on analytical software and data analysis as four-dimensional video sequencing of embryos easily creates high quantities of data. The ability to continuously film and automatically analyze growing embryos gives new insights into temporal embryo development by studying morphokinetics as well as morphology. Until recently, this was not possible unless by a tedious manual process. In recent years, several methods have been developed that enable this dynamic monitoring of live embryos. Here we describe three methods with variations in hardware and software analysis and give examples of the outcomes. Together, these methods open a window to new information in developmental embryology, as embryo division pattern and lineage are studied in vivo.
Part of the book: Embryo Cleavage