Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are membrane-bound vesicles, found in biofluids, that carry and transfer regulatory molecules, such as microRNAs (miRNAs) and proteins, and may mediate intercellular communication between cells and tissues. EVs have been isolated from a wide variety of biofluids, including plasma, urine, and, relevant to this review, seminal, follicular and uterine luminal fluid. We conducted a systematic search of the literature to review and present the currently available evidence on the possible roles of EVs in follicular growth, resumption of oocyte development and maturation (meiosis), sperm maturation, fertilization and embryo implantation. MEDLINE, Embase and Web of Science databases were searched using keywords pertaining to EVs, including 'extracellular vesicles', 'microvesicles', 'microparticles' and 'exosomes', combined with a range of terms associated with the period of development between fertilization and implantation, including 'oocyte', 'sperm', 'semen', 'fertilization', 'implantation', 'embryo', 'follicular fluid', 'epididymal fluid' and 'seminal fluid'. Relevant research articles published in English (both animal and human studies) were reviewed with no restrictions on publication date (i.e. from earliest database dates to July 2015). References from these articles were used to obtain additional articles. A total of 1556 records were retrieved from the three databases. After removing duplicates and irrelevant titles, we reviewed the abstracts of 201 articles, which included 92 relevant articles. Both animal and human studies unequivocally identified various types of EVs in seminal, follicular and ULFs. Several studies provided evidence for the roles of EVs in these biofluids. In men, EVs in seminal fluid were linked with post-testicular sperm maturation, including sperm motility acquisition and reduction of oxidative stress. In women, EVs in follicular fluid were shown to contain miRNAs with potential roles in follicular growth, resumption of oocyte meiosis, steroidogenesis and prevention of polyspermy after fertilization. EVs were also detected in the media of cultured embryos, suggesting that EVs released from embryos and the uterus may mediate embryo-endometrium cross-talk during implantation. It is important to note that many of the biologically plausible functions of EVs in reproduction discussed in the current literature have not yet been substantiated by conclusive experimental evidence. A detailed understanding of the contributions of EVs in the series of events from gametogenesis to fertilization and then on to implantation, in both normal and pathological cases, may enable the development of valuable tools to advance reproductive health. Because of the early stage of the field, it is unsurprising that the current literature includes not only growing experimental evidence, but also as-yet unproven hypotheses pertaining to the roles of EVs in key reproductive processes. In this review, we present a comprehensive survey of the rapidly expanding literature on this subject, highlighting both relevant findings and gaps in knowledge.
Implantation involves an intricate discourse between the embryo and uterus and is a gateway to further embryonic development. Synchronizing embryonic development until the blastocyst stage with the uterine differentiation that takes place to produce the receptive state is crucial to successful implantation, and therefore to pregnancy outcome. Although implantation involves the interplay of numerous signalling molecules, the hierarchical instructions that coordinate the embryo - uterine dialogue are not well understood. This review highlights our knowledge about the molecular development of preimplantation and implantation and the future challenges of the field. A better understanding of periimplantation biology could alleviate female infertility and help to develop novel contraceptives.
Human embryo implantation is a three-stage process (apposition, adhesion and invasion) involving synchronized crosstalk between a receptive endometrium and a functional blastocyst. This ovarian steroid-dependant phenomenon can only take place during the window of implantation, a self-limited period of endometrial receptivity spanning between days 20 and 24 of the menstrual cycle. Implantation involves a complex sequence of signalling events, consisting in the acquisition of adhesion ligands together with the loss of inhibitory components, which are crucial to the establishment of pregnancy. Histological evaluation, now considered to add little clinically significant information, should be replaced by functional assessment of endometrial receptivity. A large number of molecular mediators have been identified to date, including adhesion molecules, cytokines, growth factors, lipids and others. Thus, endometrial biopsy samples can be used to identify molecules associated with uterine receptivity to obtain a better insight into human implantation. In addition, development of functional in vitro systems to study embryo-uterine interactions will lead to better definition of the interactions existing between the molecules involved in this process. The purpose of this review was not only to describe the different players of the implantation process but also to try to portray the relationship between these factors and their timing in the process of uterine receptivity.
As a critical stage of pregnancy, the implantation of blastocysts into the endometrium is a progressive, excessively regulated local tissue remodeling step involving a complex sequence of genetic and cellular interplay executed within an optimal time frame. For better understanding the causes of infertility and, more importantly, for developing powerful strategies for successful implantations and combating infertility, an increasing number of recent studies have been focused on the identification and study of newly described substances in the reproductive tree. The endothelins (ET), a 21‐aminoacidic family of genes, have been reported to be responsible for the contraction of vascular and nonvascular smooth muscles, including the smooth muscles of the uterus. Therefore, this review aims to comprehensively discuss the physiological role of endothelins and signaling through their receptors, as well as their probable involvement in the implantation process.
It is well known that embryo implantation is a critical process in which embryo should be able to reach and attach to endometrium. Until now, various types of factors are involved in the regulation of this process. S100 proteins are calcium-binding proteins, which have vital roles in embryo implantation and have been considered as possible candidate markers for endometrial receptivity. However, studies regarding mode of actions of these proteins are scarce and more mechanistic insights are needed to clarify exact roles of each one of the S100 protein family. Understanding of function of these proteins in different compartments, stages, and phases of endometrium, could pave the way for conducting studies regarding the therapeutic significance of these proteins in some disorders such as recurrent implantation failure. In this review, we outlined roles and possible underlying mechanisms of S100 protein family in embryo implantation.
To study the role of during embryo implantation in rat. expression in rat early pregnancy was detected by Northern blot. The relation between and predicted and confirmed by bioinformatics method, dual-luciferase activity assay, Western blot and immunohistochemistry. The role of was detected by MTS, Edu and chamber assays. The expression level of on gestation day 5–8 (g.d. 5–8) was higher than on g.d. 3–4 in uteri of pregnant rat. was mainly localized in the superficial stroma/primary decidual zone, luminal and glandular epithelia. The expression of was not significantly influenced by pseudopregnancy, but the activation of delayed implantation and experimentally induced decidualization significantly promoted expression. Over-expression of in human endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) inhibited cell proliferation, migration and invasion. Knockdown of promoted cell proliferation and invasion. The results of recombinant luciferase reporters showed that could bind to the 3¢-untranslated region (UTR) of ( ) to inhibit translation. Uterine may be involved in the successful pregnancy, especially during the process of blastocyst implantation through regulating . This study may have the potential to provide new insights into the understanding of function during embryo implantation.
Communication between the inner cell mass (ICM) and the trophoblast layer of the blastocyst is known to occur, but its functional consequences on early developmental events is unclear. Here we demonstrate that embryonic stem (ES) cells derived from the ICM generate and shed microvesicles (MVs), a major class of extracellular vesicles (EVs), which influence trophoblast behaviour during the implantation process. The MV cargo proteins laminin and fibronectin interact with integrins along the surfaces of the trophoblasts, triggering the activation of two signalling kinases, JNK and FAK, and stimulating trophoblast migration. We further show that injecting MVs isolated from ES cells into blastocysts results in an increase in their implantation efficiency. Thus, these findings highlight a unique mechanism by which ES cells communicate with trophoblasts within the blastocyst to increase their ability to migrate into the uterus, thereby promoting one of the earliest and most important steps during pregnancy.
Implantation failure and inadequate placental development are important contributors to infertility, recurrent miscarriage, and other pregnancy-related problems in women. Better understanding of these processes is hampered by the difficulty in obtaining human tissue from which primary cells can be prepared and by the very limited access worldwide to human blastocysts for experimentation. Therefore, the use of appropriate cell lines, particularly for functional studies of implantation and placentation, is imperative. While a number of cell lines for both endometrium and trophoblast have been developed and are widely used, it is difficult for researchers to decide which of these are most appropriate for studies of particular functions. This brief review summarizes the known phenotypes of the most widely used cell lines and indicates which might be the most appropriate for individual studies.
The establishment of a receptive uterus is the prime requirement for embryo implantation. In mice, the E-2-induced cytokine leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is essential in switching the uterine luminal epithelium (LE) from a nonreceptive to a receptive state. Here we define the LIF-mediated switch using array analysis and informatics to identify LIF-induced changes in gene expression and annotated signaling pathways specific to the LE. We compare gene expression profiles at 0, 1, 3, and 6 h, following LIF treatment. During the first hour, the JAK-STAT signaling pathway is activated and the expression of 54 genes declines, primarily affecting LE cytoskeletal and chromatin organization as well as a transient reduction in the progesterone, TGFbetaR1, and ACVR1 receptors. Simultaneously 256 genes increase expression, of which 42 are transcription factors, including Sox, Kfl, Hes, Hey, and Hox families. Within 3 h, the expression of 3987 genes belonging to more than 25 biological process pathways was altered. We confirmed the mRNA and protein distribution of key genes from 10 pathways, including the Igf-1, Vegf, Toll-like receptors, actin cytoskeleton, ephrin, integrins, TGFbeta, Wnt, and Notch pathways. These data identify novel LIF-activated pathways in the LE and define the molecular basis between the refractory and receptive uterine phases. More broadly, these findings highlight the staggering capacity of a single cytokine to induce a dynamic and complex network of changes in a simple epithelium essential to mammalian reproduction and provide a basis for identifying new routes to regulating female reproduction.
Embryo implantation remains a poorly understood process. We demonstrate here that activation of the epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC) in mouse endometrial epithelial cells by an embryo-released serine protease, trypsin, triggers Ca2+ influx that leads to prostaglandin E-2 (PGE(2)) release, phosphorylation of the transcription factor CREB and upregulation of cyclooxygenase 2, the enzyme required for prostaglandin production and implantation(1-3). We detected maximum ENaC activation, as indicated by ENaC cleavage(4), at the time of implantation in mice. Blocking or knocking down uterine ENaC in mice resulted in implantation failure. Furthermore, we found that uterine ENaC expression before in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment is markedly lower in women with implantation failure as compared to those with successful pregnancy. These results indicate a previously undefined role of ENaC in regulating the PGE(2) production and release required for embryo implantation, defects that may be a cause of miscarriage and low success rates in IVF.