Oxidative stress is involved in the aetiology of defective embryo development. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) may originate from embryo metabolism and/or embryo surroundings. Embryo metabolism generates ROS via several enzymatic mechanisms. The relative contribution of each source seems different depending on the species, the stage of development, and the culture conditions. Several exogenous factors and culture conditions can enhance the production of ROS by embryos. ROS can alter most types of cellular molecules, and also induce development block and retardation. Multiple mechanisms of embryo protection against ROS exist, and these have complementary actions. External protection, present in follicular and tubal fluids, mainly comprises non-enzymatic antioxidants such as hypotaurine, taurine and ascorbic acid, Internal protection mainly comprises antioxidant enzymes: superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and gamma -glutamylcysteine synthetase. Transcripts encoding for these enzymes are present in the oocyte, embryo and oviduct. It may be important that these transcripts are stored during oocyte maturation in order to allow the embryo to acquire the aptitude to develop. It is now common to add antioxidant compounds to culture media. Nevertheless, maintaining the pro-oxidant-antioxidant equilibrium in embryos through such supplementation is a complex problem. Further studies are necessary to limit oxidative stress during embryo culture.
The implantation of a blastocyst into a receptive uterus is associated with a series of events, namely the attachment reaction followed by decidualization of the stroma. Previous studies established that the gene encoding heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF) is expressed in the luminal epithelium solely at the site of blastocyst apposition preceding the attachment reaction. We report here the expression during implantation of 21 genes encoding other signaling proteins, including those belonging to the Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), WNT, and Hedgehog (HH) pathways. We find that the attachment reaction is associated with a localized stromal induction of genes encoding BMP-2, FGF-2, and WNT-4. Despite efforts by many investigators, a simple in vitro model of implantation is not yet available to study either the hierarchy of the events triggered in the uterus by the embryo or the function of individual signaling proteins. We have therefore approached these questions by introducing beads loaded with purified factors into the receptive uterus. We show that beads soaked in HB-EGF or insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), but not other proteins, induce many of the same discrete local responses elicited by the blastocyst, including increased localized vascular permeability, decidualization, and expression of Bmp2 at the sites of the beads. By contrast, the expression domains of Indian hedgehog (Ihh), patched, and noggin become restricted as decidualization proceeds. Significantly, beads containing BMP-2 do not themselves elicit an implantation response but affect the spacing of implantation sites induced by blastocysts cotransferred with the beads.
Leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) expression in the uterus is essential for embryo implantation in mice. Here we describe the spatial and temporal regulation of LIF signaling in vivo by using tissues isolated from uteri on different days over the implantation period. During this time, LIF receptors are expressed predominantly in the luminal epithelium (LE) of the uterus. Isolated epithelium responds to LIF by phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of signal transducer and activator of transcription (Stat) 3, but not by an increase in mitogen-activated protein kinase levels. The related cytokines II-6, ciliary neurotrophic factor, as well as epidermal growth factor, do not activate Stat3, although epidermal growth factor stimulates mitogen-activated protein kinase. In vivo Stat3 activation is induced by LIF alone, resulting in the localization of Stat3 specifically to the nuclei of the LE coinciding with the onset of uterine receptivity. The responsiveness of the LE to LIF is regulated temporally, with Stat activation being restricted to day 4 of pregnancy despite the presence of constant levels of LIF receptor throughout the preimplantation period. Uterine receptivity is therefore under dual control and is regulated by both the onset of LIF expression in the endometrial glands and the release from inhibition of receptor function in the LE.
BACKGROUND: Hydrosalpinx adversely affects embryo implantation and contributes to poor implantation rates post embryo transfer. Embryo transport depends on concomitant intrauterine fluid motion induced by uterine wall motility, the result of spontaneous myometrial contractions towards the fundus. METHODS AND RESULTS: The uterine dynamics of five patients with hydrosalpinx were recorded and analysed by image-processing techniques: the frequency was higher while the amplitudes and passive widths were lower compared with healthy volunteers. The existing peristaltic activity should have induced intrauterine fluid flow; however, the recordings failed to show the expected transport of fluid bolus. This observation was supported by mathematical simulations based on the hypothesis that fluid accumulation in the Fallopian tube of a patient with hydrosalpinx increases tubal pressure and thereby induces a pressure gradient between the fundus and the cervix. This pressure gradient acts adversely to the cervix-to-fundus intrauterine peristalsis and generates reflux currents that may thrust embryos away from the implantation site. CONCLUSIONS: The reflux phenomenon could explain the reduced implantation rate associated with hydrosalpinx. Resolution of the issue of whether the removal of a Fallopian tube with hydrosalpinx should be undertaken for improving IVF pregnancy rates should be accompanied by prospective randomized clinical trials.
In this first statement of the ESHRE Task Force on Ethics and Law, the focus is on the pre-implantation embryo. This embryo is owed respect as a symbol of future human life. The basic ethical principles which govern the practical way embryos should be treated are outlined. Specific items of concern are pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, freezing, donation and research. The usefulness and safety of these specific issues, together with the ethical concerns, are presented with a view to protect the vulnerable infertile couple as well as the future child.
The gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonists, cetrorelix and ganirelix, have both been approved for ovarian stimulation to prevent a premature LH surge. Since GnRH receptors and their gene expression have been detected in human ovary, concern has risen over whether GnRH antagonists might affect ovarian function. Three large trials which compared GnRH agonists (used in the standard protocol worldwide), with the new antagonist treatment found no significant differences concerning the most important goals, e.g, pregnancy rate, fertilization and quality of oocytes, However, the concentration of oestradiol, and the pregnancy and implantation rates were Lower in GnRH antagonist-treated patients. These findings again fuelled the debate about the possible extrapituitary effects of GnRH antagonists. Here, we review the conflicting data in the literature on the ovarian effects of GnRH antagonists and discuss our own results, In our view, it is unlikely that GnRH antagonists have a relevant impact on ovarian steroidogenesis and function; however, GnRH antagonists may exert other effects on the ovary.
The implantation of fertilized ova and the formation of the placenta are crucial steps in reproduction. This review summarizes current information about these steps, including some of the molecular mechanisms that mediate them and how they may go awry, with consequent loss of the pregnancy. Human reproduction entails a fundamental paradox: although it is critical to the survival of the species, the process is relatively inefficient. Maximal fecundity (the probability of conception during one menstrual cycle) is approximately 30 percent. 1 Only 50 to 60 percent of all conceptions advance beyond 20 weeks of gestation. 2 Of the pregnancies that are lost, 75 percent represent a failure of implantation and are therefore not clinically recognized as pregnancies. 2 Failed implantation is also a major limiting factor in assisted reproduction. 3 A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms responsible for implantation and placentation may improve clinicians' ability to treat disorders . . .
The factor-V-Leiden mutation is seen in high frequencies in white people, despite its contribution to second-trimester abortion, preterm birth, and deep-vein thrombosis. The reason for its high frequency is not known. We investigated 102 mother-child pairs who had had successful in-vitro fertilisation by intracytoplasmic sperm injection as a model for human implantation. In 90% (9 of 10) of mother-child pairs who carried factor-V-Leiden mutation, the first embryo transfer was successful, compared with 49% (45 of 92) in factor-V-Leiden negative pairs (p=0·018, Fisher's exact test). Furthermore, the median number of unsuccessful transfers was lower in pairs who were positive for the mutation (0, range 0–2) than those who were negative (1, 0–8) (p=0·02, Mann Whitney U test) suggesting that improved implantation rate is an important genetic advantage of the factor-V-Leiden mutation.