Late morulae and blastocysts were recovered from streptozocin-induced diabetic pregnant rats and individually examined for numbers of inner cell mass (ICM) cells and trophectoderm (TE) cells. Compared with embryos collected from control rats, exposure to maternal diabetes significantly decreased mean ICM cell number of blastocysts recovered on day 5 of gestation, but the TE population of these embryos remained unaffected. The mean ICM proportion was therefore significantly lower than that of control embryos. These differences were not observed between the two groups of morulae collected on day 5, suggesting that the distinctive susceptibility of the ICM was expressed after blastocyst formation. On day 6, a significant inhibitory effect of diabetes was observed on the growth of both ICM and TE cells, but because the reduction was more severe in the ICM than in the TE, the mean ICM proportion of these blastocysts was again significantly lower than in control embryos. A linear quadratic relationship was obtained between the numbers of ICM cells of individual blastocysts and their respective numbers of TE cells in each of the two experimental groups. However, the slope of the curve was slower in the diabetic group than the control group. The disturbed ICM cell growth in the blastocysts from diabetic rats was found to be associated with a significantly increased incidence of cell death predominantly located in the ICM. Because it is known that excessive reduction of the ICM is incompatible with normal embryogenesis after implantation, our results suggest that the differential sensitivity of ICM and TE cells in preimplantation blastocysts may contribute to the pattern of postimplantation defects described in diabetic pregnancies.

This content is only available via PDF.