Embryo Toxicity Assay (ETA)

Definition - What does Embryo Toxicity Assay (ETA) mean?

An embryonic toxic assay (ETA) is a test to detect embryonic toxic factor (ETF) and determine if a pregnant women is secreting a substance toxic to the embryo and causing loss of pregnancy during implantation or the first trimester. ETA is one of the various fertility testing procedures performed when a woman had multiple miscarriages.

FertilitySmarts explains Embryo Toxicity Assay (ETA)

Embryonic toxic factor (ETF) is a substance that belongs to the so-called cytokines, secreted by the immune system, specifically by the white blood cells during a normal pregnancy. If the white cells produce increased amounts of this cytokine, the embryo may be attacked by the immune system, which may consider the embryo as foreign, leading to a miscarriage.

An ETA is used to detect ETF has two stages: in order to find out whether the white blood cells, specifically the lymphocytes are secreting any substance that could damage the developing of the embryo, a blood sample will be taken and specific lymphocytes are separated, treated with a special solution, and then culture for several days. These lymphocytes will be used for embryo culture.

The embryo culture is the second part of this test and uses an early-stage mouse embryo to investigate whether the patient’s lymphocytes are producing any toxic substance that could affect the embryos. After a few days in culture, they are examined to determine the quality of development. Embryos that stopped developing or are dead, prove the presence of ETF. A normal rate of embryo development will rule out the presence of ETF, secreted by the woman’s lymphocytes in culture. In the last situation, the indicated treatment could be the suppression of the immune system.

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