Direct Effects of Mifepristone on Mice Embryogenesis: An In Vitro Evaluation by Single-Embryo RNA Sequencing Analysis

Yu Ting Su, Jia Shing Chen, Kuo Chung Lan, Yung Kuo Lee, Tian Huei Chu, Yu Cheng Ho, Cheng Chun Wu*, Fu Jen Huang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review


The clinical use of mifepristone for medical abortions has been established in 1987 in France and since 2000 in the United States. Mifepristone has a limited medical period that lasts <9 weeks of gestation, and the incidence of mifepristone treatment failure increases with gestation time. Mifepristone functions as an antagonist for progesterone and glucocorticoid receptors. Studies have confirmed that mifepristone treatments can directly contribute to endometrium disability by interfering with the endometrial receptivity of the embryo, thus causing decidual endometrial degeneration. However, whether mifepristone efficacy directly affects embryo survival and growth is still an open question. Some women choose to continue their pregnancy after mifepristone treatment fails, and some women express regret and seek medically unapproved mifepristone antagonization with high doses of progesterone. These unapproved treatments raise the potential risk of embryonic fatality and developmental anomalies. Accordingly, in the present study, we collected mouse blastocysts ex vivo and treated implanted blastocysts with mifepristone for 24 h. The embryos were further cultured to day 8 in vitro to finish their growth in the early somite stage, and the embryos were then collected for RNA sequencing (control n = 3, mifepristone n = 3). When we performed a gene set enrichment analysis, our data indicated that mifepristone treatment considerably altered the cellular pathways of embryos in terms of viability, proliferation, and development. The data indicated that mifepristone was involved in hallmark gene sets of protein secretion, mTORC1, fatty acid metabolism, IL-2-STAT5 signaling, adipogenesis, peroxisome, glycolysis, E2F targets, and heme metabolism. The data further revealed that mifepristone interfered with normal embryonic development. In sum, our data suggest that continuing a pregnancy after mifepristone treatment fails is inappropriate and infeasible. The results of our study reveal a high risk of fetus fatality and developmental problems when pregnancies are continued after mifepristone treatment fails.

Original languageEnglish
Article number907
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 03 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • GSEA
  • RNAseq
  • RU-486
  • abortion
  • embryo
  • mifepristone


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