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.
Problem In mammals, implantation involves interactions between an activated blastocyst and a receptive endometrium. There are controversies on the role of microRNAs in preimplantation embryo development. The actions of endometrial microRNAs on implantation are beginning to be understood. Method of Study Review of literature on microRNAs in preimplantation embryos and endometrium. Results Emerging evidence suggests a role of microRNAs in blastocyst activation and implantation. Differential expression of microRNAs is found between receptive and non‐receptive endometria. Members of the let‐7, miR‐200, miR‐30 families, and the miR‐17‐92 clusters are more commonly found to be associated with endometrial receptivity. Experimental studies show that the targets of the differentially expressed microRNAs affect endometrial receptivity, decidualization, and embryo implantation. Free and exosome/microvesicle containing microRNAs have been detected in human and ovine uterine luminal fluid (ULF). They may serve as mediators of embryo–endometrium dialog. Some observations suggest that the microRNAs in ULF may be used as biomarkers in infertility treatment. Conclusion MicroRNAs in endometrium and blastocysts are involved in the implantation process.
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.
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.
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.
The molecular changes that support implantation in eutherian mammals are necessary to establish pregnancy. In marsupials, pregnancy is relatively short, and although a placenta does form, it is present for only a few days before parturition. However, morphological changes in the uterus of marsupials at term mimic those that occur during implantation in humans and mice. We investigated themolecular similarity between term pregnancy in the marsupials and implantation in eutherian mammals using the gray short-tailed opossum (Monodelphis domestica) as a model. Transcriptomic analysis shows that term pregnancy in the opossum is characterized by an inflammatory response consistent with implantation in humans and mice. This immune response is temporally correlated with the loss of the eggshell, and we used immunohistochemistry to report that this reaction occurs at the materno-fetal interface. We demonstrate that key markers of implantation, including Heparin binding EGF-like growth factor and Mucin 1, exhibit expression and localization profiles consistent with the pattern observed during implantation in eutherian mammals. Finally, we show that there are transcriptome-wide similarities between the opossum attachment reaction and implantation in rabbits and humans. Our data suggest that the implantation reaction that occurs in eutherians is derived froman attachment reaction in the ancestral therianmammal which, in the opossum, leads directly to parturition. Finally, we argue that the ability to shift from an inflammatory attachment reaction to a noninflammatory period of pregnancy was a key innovation in eutherian mammals that allowed an extended period of intimate placentation.