Acid ceramidase improves the quality of oocytes and embryos and the outcome of in vitro fertilization

Efrat Eliyahu, Nataly Shtraizent, Kurt Martinuzzi, Jason Barritt, Xingxuan He, Hong Wei, Sanjeev Chaubal, Alan B. Copperman, Edward H. Schuchman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


A major challenge of assisted reproduction technologies (ARTs) is to mimic the natural environment required to sustain oocyte and embryo survival. Herein, we show that the ceramide-metabolizing enzyme, acid ceramidase (AC), is expressed in human cumulus cells and follicular fluid, essential components of this environment, and that the levels of this enzyme are positively correlated with the quality of human embryos formed in vitro. These observations led us to develop a new approach for oocyte and embryo culture that markedly improved the outcome of in vitro fertilization (IVF). The addition of recombinant AC (rAC) to human and mouse oocyte culture medium maintained their healthy morphology in vitro. Following fertilization, the number of mouse embryos formed in the presence of rAC also was improved (from ∼40 to 88%), leading to ∼5-fold more healthy births. To confirm these observations, immature bovine oocytes were matured in vitro and subjected to IVF in the presence of rAC. Significantly more high-grade blastocysts were formed, and the number of morphologically intact, hatched embryos was increased from ∼24 to 70%. Overall, these data identify AC as an important component of the in vivo oocyte and embryo environment, and provide a novel technology for enhancing the outcome of assisted fertilization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1229-1238
Number of pages10
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Apoptosis
  • Ceramide
  • Reproduction


Dive into the research topics of 'Acid ceramidase improves the quality of oocytes and embryos and the outcome of in vitro fertilization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this