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Free access

S. Lindenberg, S. J. Kimber, and E. Kallin

Summary. Mouse blastocysts bound LNF I conjugated to BSA-FITC or HSA-FITC and binding was inhibited by LNF I-HSA and to some extent by free LNF I, suggesting that the trophectoderm carries receptors specific for LNF I-like structures previously shown to be involved in implantation.

Keywords: embryo; implantation; neoglycoprotein; receptor; trophoblast, mouse

Free access

Ann C. McRae and R. B. Church

Summary. A scoring scheme was devised to characterize visually the morphological differentiation of whole-mount, unfixed mouse blastocysts. Embryos were recovered from groups of intact mice (implanting embryos) and mice ovariectomized on Day 3 of pregnancy (implantation-delayed embryos) every 3 h from 18:00 h on Day 4 until 12:00 h on Day 5. Blastocyst differentiation was assessed according to the presence of a zona pellucida, the appearance of the outer margin of trophectoderm cells, the visibility of the blastocoele and the relative size of the inner cell mass. The results obtained indicate that, during this period, implanting and implantation-delayed mouse blastocysts lose the zona as well as exhibit rounded trophectoderm cells, an enlarged inner cell mass and an increasing opacity of the blastocoele. In contrast, the trophectoderm cells of implanting blastocysts only exhibit extensive cytoplasmic projections, probably due to remodelling of the intracellular cytoskeleton. Growth of the inner cell mass appeared to precede the other morphological changes in the majority of blastocysts, and thus might be a prerequisite for further differentiation. The rate of blastocyst differentiation and the survival of embryos were adversely affected by the condition of delayed implantation, induced by ovariectomy. This study suggests that the appearance of cytoplasmic projections from trophectoderm cells is central to the control of blastocyst implantation.

Keywords: blastocyst; morphology; trophectoderm; implantation; mouse

Free access

M G Martínez-Hernández, L A Baiza-Gutman, A Castillo-Trápala, and D Randall Armant

Trophoblast cells express urokinase-type plasminogen activator (PLAU) and may depend on its activity for endometrial invasion and tissue remodeling during peri-implantation development. However, the developmental regulation, tissue distribution, and function of PLAU are not completely understood. In this study, the expression of PLAU and its regulation by extracellular matrix proteins was examined by RT-PCR, immunocytochemistry, and plasminogen–casein zymography in cultured mouse embryos. There was a progressive increase in Plau mRNA expression in blastocysts cultured on gestation days 4–8. Tissue-type plasminogen activator (55 kDa) and PLAU (a triplet of 40, 37, and 31 kDa) were present in conditioned medium and embryo lysates, and were adsorbed to the culture plate surface. The temporal expression pattern of PLAU, according to semi-quantitative gel zymography, was similar in non-adhering embryos and embryos cultured on fibronectin, laminin, or type IV collagen, although type IV collagen and laminin upregulated Plau mRNA expression. Immunofluorescence revealed PLAU on the surface of the mural trophectoderm and in non-spreading giant trophoblast cells. Exogenous human plasminogen was transformed to plasmin by cultured embryos and activated endogenous matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9). Indeed, the developmental expression profile of MMP9 was similar to that of PLAU. Our data suggest that the intrinsic developmental program predominantly regulates PLAU expression during implantation, and that PLAU could be responsible for activation of MMP9, leading to localized matrix proteolysis as trophoblast invasion commences.

Free access

Peter T Ruane, Rebekka Koeck, Stéphane C Berneau, Susan J Kimber, Melissa Westwood, Daniel R Brison, and John D Aplin

In vitro culture during assisted reproduction technologies (ARTs) exposes pre-implantation embryos to environmental stressors, such as non-physiological nutritional, oxidative and osmotic conditions. The effects on subsequent implantation are not well understood but could contribute to poor ART efficiency and outcomes. We have used exposure to hyperosmolarity to investigate the effects of stress on the ability of embryos to interact with endometrial cells in an in vitro model. Culturing mouse blastocysts for 2 h in medium with osmolarity raised by 400 mosmol induced blastocoel collapse and re-expansion, but did not affect subsequent attachment to, or invasion of, the endometrial epithelial Ishikawa cell line. Inhibition of stress-responsive c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activity with SP600125 did not affect the intercellular interactions between these embryos and the epithelial cells. Four successive cycles of hyperosmotic stress at E5.5 had no effect on attachment, but promoted embryonic breaching of the epithelial cell layer by trophoblast giant cells in a JNK-dependent manner. These findings suggest that acute stress at the blastocyst stage may promote trophoblast breaching of the endometrial epithelium at implantation and implicates stress signalling through JNK in the process of trophectoderm differentiation into the invasive trophoblast necessary for the establishment of pregnancy. The data may lead to increased understanding of factors governing ART success rates and safety.

Free access

J. P. Hearn, G. E. Webley, and A. A. Gidley-Baird

Summary. Genes for chorionic gonadotrophin (CG) are transcribed by the 16-cell embryo stage in humans, but there is no clear evidence of CG secretion as a bioactive dimer before attachment and trophoblast outgrowth stages of implantation. The studies summarized question the timing of CG expression and secretion, the possible roles of CG for intraembryonic differentiation and at the implantation site, and the recognition of this primate embryo-derived signal in support of the corpus luteum. The data suggest that the implantation window in primates may be broader than in nonprimate species, where a closer synchrony between embryonic, tubal and uterine events appears to be necessary for embryonic survival. Some preliminary data concerning an association between peripheral thrombocytopenia, ovarian inhibin secretion and peri-implantation stages of embryo development indicate that an unknown embryonic signal may be secreted before bioactive CG can be detected.

Keywords: chorionic gonadotrophin; corpus luteum; embryo; implantation; platelet-activating factor; inhibin; pregnancy; primate

Open access

L P Sepulveda-Rincon, N Islam, P Marsters, B K Campbell, N Beaujean, and W E Maalouf

It has been suggested that first embryo cleavage can be related with the embryonic–abembryonic axis at blastocyst stage in mice. Thus, cells of the 2-cell embryo might be already biased to form the inner cell mass or trophectoderm. This study was conducted to observe the possible effects of embryo biopsy on cell allocation patterns during embryo preimplantation in two different mouse strains and the effects of these patterns on further development. First, one blastomere of the 2-cell embryo was injected with a lipophilic tracer and cell allocation patterns were observed at blastocyst stage. Blastocysts were classified into orthogonal, deviant or random pattern. For the first experiment, embryos were biopsied at 8-cell stage and total cell counts (TCC) were annotated. Furthermore, non-biopsied blastocysts were transferred into foster mothers. Then, pups and their organs were weighed two weeks after birth. Random pattern was significantly recurrent (≈60%), against orthogonal (<22%) and deviant (<22%) patterns among groups. These patterns were not affected by biopsy procedure. However, TCC on deviant embryos were reduced after biopsy. Moreover, no differences were found between patterns for implantation rates, litter size, live offspring and organ weights (lungs, liver, pancreas and spleen). However, deviant pups presented heavier hearts and orthogonal pups presented lighter kidneys among the group. In conclusion, these results suggest that single blastomere removal does not disturb cell allocation patterns during pre-implantation. Nonetheless, the results suggest that embryos following different cell allocation patterns present different coping mechanisms against in vitro manipulations and further development might be altered.

Open access

Patricia Grasa, Heidy Kaune, and Suzannah A Williams

Female mice generating oocytes lacking complex N- and O-glycans (double mutants (DM)) produce only one small litter before undergoing premature ovarian failure (POF) by 3 months. Here we investigate the basis of the small litter by evaluating ovulation rate and embryo development in DM (Mgat1F/FC1galt1F/F:ZP3Cre) and Control (Mgat1F/FC1galt1F/F) females. Surprisingly, DM ovulation rate was normal at 6 weeks, but declined dramatically by 9 weeks. In vitro development of zygotes to blastocysts was equivalent to Controls although all embryos from DM females lacked a normal zona pellucida (ZP) and ∼30% lacked a ZP entirely. In contrast, in vivo preimplantation development resulted in less embryos recovered from DM females compared with Controls at 3.5 days post coitum (dpc) (3.2±1.3 vs 7.0±0.6). Furthermore, only 45% of mated DM females contained embryos at 3.5 dpc. Of the preimplantation embryos collected from DM females, approximately half were morulae unlike Controls where the majority were blastocysts, indicating delayed embryo development in DM females. Post-implantation development in DM females was analysed to determine whether delayed preimplantation development affected subsequent development. In DM females at 5.5 dpc, only ∼40% of embryos found at 3.5 dpc had implanted. However, at 6.5 dpc, implantation sites in DM females corresponded to embryo numbers at 3.5 dpc indicating delayed implantation. At 9.5 dpc, the number of decidua corresponded to embryo numbers 6 days earlier indicating that all implanted embryos progress to midgestation. Therefore, a lack of complex N- and O-glycans in oocytes during development impairs early embryo development and viability in vivo leading to delayed implantation and a small litter.

Free access



Four-day-old mouse embryos were transferred to the uterine lumen of virgin cyclic and ovariectomized mice; the eggs 'implanted' and developed only in mice whose endometrium was previously traumatized with a glass scraper. The histology of the mechanically induced implantation sites is described and similarities to normal implantation sites are discussed.

Implanted embryos developed only to stages equivalent to 5 to 9 days of normal pregnancy, but the trophoblast continued to proliferate and invaded the endometrium, eroding maternal blood vessels and distending the uterus. In five of eight ovariectomized mice, plaques of decidual-like cells were found near the trophoblast 7 to 12 days after transfer.

Free access

R. G. Janzen, E. R. Mably, T. Tamaoki, R. B. Church, and F. L. Lorscheider

Summary. The synthesis of alpha1-fetoprotein (AFP) was measured by radioimmunoassay in tissues and fluids of 19 bovine embryos (14–46 days of gestation) and in tissue cultures of 4 pre-implantation embryos (17–27 days) by incorporation of radioactive methionine. AFP was first detected in Day-14 trophoblasts and secretion of AFP into allantoic fluid occurred by Day 16. Embryonic tissues and fluids in pre-implantation and post-implantation embryos contained levels of AFP that were 550 to 1 500 000 times higher than those found in maternal serum (3·9–298 000 compared with 0·07–0·25 ng/mg protein). High levels of AFP were also found in uterine fluid which suggested significant transfer of this protein from the early post-implantation conceptus. The major sites of AFP synthesis were yolk sac and fetal liver. It is concluded that the synthesis of bovine AFP is not initiated by events associated with implantation.

Restricted access

Qianrong Qi, Yifan Yang, Kailin Wu, and Qingzhen Xie

Recent studies revealed that TMEM16A is involved in several reproductive processes, including ovarian estrogen secretion and ovulation, sperm motility and acrosome reaction, fertilization and myometrium contraction. However, little is known about the expression and function of TMEM16A in embryo implantation and decidualization. In this study, we focused on the expression and regulation of TMEM16A in mouse uterus during early pregnancy. We found that TMEM16A is upregulated in uterine endometrium in response to embryo implantation and decidualization. Progesterone treatment could induce TMEM16A expression in endometrial stromal cells through progesterone receptor/c-Myc pathway, which is blocked by progesterone receptor antagonist or the inhibitor of c-Myc signaling pathway. Inhibition of TMEM16A by small molecule inhibitor (T16Ainh-A01) resulted in impaired embryo implantation and decidualization in mice. Treatment with either specific siRNA of Tmem16a or T16Ainh-A01 inhibited the decidualization and proliferation of mouse endometrial stromal cells. In conclusion, our results revealed that TMEM16A is involved in embryo implantation and decidualization in mice, compromised function of TMEM16A may lead to impaired embryo implantation and decidualization.