Shen, Y., Betzendahl, I., Tinneberg, H. R. and Eichenlaub-Ritter, U.
Enhanced polarizing microscopy as a new tool in aneuploidy research in oocytes.  Mutation Research 651: 131-140 (2008).

Chromosomal non-disjunction in female meiosis gives rise to reduced fertility and trisomy in humans. Human oocytes, especially from aged women, appear especially susceptible to non-disjunction. The oocyte spindle is crucial for high fidelity of chromosome segregation at meiotic divisions, and alterations in spindle morphology are therefore indicators of adverse conditions during oocyte development that may result in meiotic aneuploidy. In the past, oocytes had to be fixed for spindle analysis, precluding direct non-invasive identification of aneugens and adverse maturation conditions that affect spindle integrity and chromosome behavior. Aneuploidy research for detection of spindle aberrations was therefore mainly focused on in vivo or in vitro exposed, fixed animal oocytes or cytogenetic analysis of spread oocytes. Orientation independent enhanced polarizing microscopy with nearly circularly polarized light and electronically controlled liquid crystal compensator optics is a new tool to study spindle morphology non-invasively in vivo for qualitative as well as quantitative analysis. Image generation by polarization microscopy depends on the intrinsic optical properties of the spindle with its paracrystalline microtubule lattice. When polarized light passes through such a lattice it induces a splitting of the beam and shift in the plane of vibration and retardation of light (termed birefringence and retardance). Studies of animal oocytes and follicle-cell denuded human oocytes fertilized by intracytoplasmic sperm injection for assisted conception have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of enhanced polarization microscopy. The method can be employed in aneuploidy research for non-invasive dose–response studies to detect spindle aberrations, for instance, in combination with cytogenetic analysis. Due to the non-invasive nature of the technique it may be employed in routine analysis of human oocytes to assess risks by lifestyle factors, and occupational and adverse environmental exposures.