Embryo implantation involves the intimate interaction between an implantation-competent blastocyst and a receptive uterus, which occurs in a limited time period known as the window of implantation. Emerging evidence shows that defects originating during embryo implantation induce ripple effects with adverse consequences on later gestation events, highlighting the significance of this event for pregnancy success. Although a multitude of cellular events and molecular pathways involved in embryo–uterine crosstalk during implantation have been identified through gene expression studies and genetically engineered mouse models, a comprehensive understanding of the nature of embryo implantation is still missing. This review focuses on recent progress with particular attention to physiological and molecular determinants of blastocyst activation, uterine receptivity, blastocyst attachment and uterine decidualization. A better understanding of underlying mechanisms governing embryo implantation should generate new strategies to rectify implantation failure and improve pregnancy rates in women.
BACKGROUND Time-lapse observation presents an opportunity for optimizing embryo selection based on morphological grading as well as providing novel kinetic parameters, which may further improve accurate selection of viable embryos. The objective of this retrospective study was to identify the morphokinetic parameters specific to embryos that were capable of implanting. In order to compare a large number of embryos, with minimal variation in culture conditions, we have used an automatic embryo monitoring system. METHODS Using a tri-gas IVF incubator with a built-in camera designed to automatically acquire images at defined time points, we have simultaneously monitored up to 72 individual embryos without removing the embryos from the controlled environment. Images were acquired every 15 min in five different focal planes for at least 64 h for each embryo. We have monitored the development of transferred embryos from 285 couples undergoing their first ICSI cycle. The total number of transferred embryos was 522, of which 247 either failed to implant or fully implanted, with full implantation meaning that all transferred embryos in a treatment implanted. RESULTS A detailed retrospective analysis of cleavage times, blastomere size and multinucleation was made for the 247 transferred embryos with either failed or full implantation. We found that several parameters were significantly correlated with subsequent implantation (e.g. time of first and subsequent cleavages as well as the time between cleavages). The most predictive parameters were: (i) time of division to 5 cells, t5 (48.8–56.6 h after ICSI); (ii) time between division to 3 cells and subsequent division to 4 cells, s2 (≤0.76 h) and (iii) duration of cell cycle two, i.e. time between division to 2 cells and division to 3 cells, cc2 (≤11.9 h). We also observed aberrant behavior such as multinucleation at the 4 cell stage, uneven blastomere size at the 2 cell stage and abrupt cell division to three or more cells, which appeared to largely preclude implantation. CONCLUSIONS The image acquisition and time-lapse analysis system makes it possible to determine exact timing of embryo cleavages in a clinical setting. We propose a multivariable model based on our findings to classify embryos according to their probability of implantation. The efficacy of this classification will be evaluated in a prospective randomized study that ultimately will determine if implantation rates can be improved by time-lapse analysis.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Failure of embryo implantation is a major limiting factor in early pregnancy and assisted reproduction. Determinants of implantation include the embryo viability, the endometrial receptivity, and embryo-maternal interactions. Multiple molecules are involved in the regulation of implantation, but their specific regulatory mechanisms remain unclear. MicroRNA (miRNA), functioning as the transcriptional regulator of gene expression, has been widely reported to be involved in embryo implantation. Recent studies reveal that miRNAs not only act inside the cells, but also can be released by cells into the extracellular environment through multiple packaging forms, facilitating intercellular communication and providing indicative information associated with physiological and pathological conditions. The discovery of extracellular miRNAs shed new light on implantation studies. MiRNAs provide new mechanisms for embryo-maternal communication. Moreover, they may serve as non-invasive biomarkers for embryo selection and assessment of endometrial receptivity in assisted reproduction, which improves the accuracy of evaluation while reducing the mechanical damage to the tissue. In this review, we discuss the involvement of miRNAs in embryo implantation from several aspects, focusing on the role of extracellular miRNAs and their potential applications in assisted reproductive technologies (ART) to promote fertility efficiency.
Histone modifications have critical roles in regulating the expression of developmental genes during embryo development in mammals(1,2). However, genome-wide analyses of histone modifications in pre-implantation embryos have been impeded by the scarcity of the required materials. Here, by using a small-scale chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing (ChIP-seq) method(3), we map the genome-wide profiles of histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3) and histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3), which are associated with gene activation and repression4,5, respectively, in mouse pre-implantation embryos. We find that the re-establishment of H3K4me3, especially on promoter regions, occurs much more rapidly than that of H3K27me3 following fertilization, which is consistent with the major wave of zygotic genome activation at the two-cell stage. Furthermore, H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 possess distinct features of sequence preference and dynamics in preimplantation embryos. Although H3K4me3 modifications occur consistently at transcription start sites, the breadth of the H3K4me3 domain is a highly dynamic feature. Notably, the broad H3K4me3 domain (wider than 5 kb) is associated with higher transcription activity and cell identity not only in pre-implantation development but also in the process of deriving embryonic stem cells from the inner cell mass and trophoblast stem cells from the trophectoderm. Compared to embryonic stem cells, we found that the bivalency (that is, co-occurrence of H3K4me3 and H3K27me3) in early embryos is relatively infrequent and unstable. Taken together, our results provide a genome-wide map of H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 modifications in pre-implantation embryos, facilitating further exploration of the mechanism for epigenetic regulation in early embryos.