Spontaneous cyclic embryonic movements in humans and guinea pigs

R.H. Felt, E.J. Mulder, A.M. Lüchinger, C.M. van Kan, M.A. Taverne, J.I.P. de Vries

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Motility assessment before birth can be used to evaluate the integrity of the nervous system. Sideways bending (SB) of head and/or rump, the earliest embryonic motility in both humans and guinea pigs, can be visualized sonographically. We know from other species that early embryonic motility is cyclic. This study explores the distribution of SB-to-SB intervals in human and guinea pig embryos before the appearance of more complex movements such as general movements. We hypothesized that the activity in both species is cyclic. We made 15-min sonographic recordings of SBs between 5 weeks and 0 days (5wk0d) and 7wk0d conceptional age (CA) in 18 human embryos of uncomplicated IVF pregnancies (term 38 weeks) and in 20 guinea pig embryos between 3wk4d and 4wk0d CA (term 9 weeks). SB-to-SB interval durations were categorized as long (≥10 s) or short (<10 s) intervals. For human embryos, the median values for long and short intervals were 61 s (range, 10-165 s) and 3 s (range, 1-9 s) respectively; for guinea pigs 38 s (range, 10-288 s) and 5 s (range, 1-9 s), respectively. During development, the duration of long intervals decreased while the number of short intervals increased for both species. The earliest embryonic motility in the human and guinea pig is performed cyclically with distinct developmental milestones. The resemblance of their interval development offers promising possibilities to use the guinea pig as a noninvasive animal model of external influences on motor and neural development. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)133-139
    JournalDevelopmental Neurobiology
    Issue number8
    Early online date7 Jul 2011
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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