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F Saji, Y Samejima, S Kamiura, and M Koyama

Transplacental transport of maternal immunoglobulin G (IgG) to the developing fetus is extremely important in the protection of the newborn from infection. Although the exact mechanisms of the selective and active transfer of IgG across the placental barrier are not fully understood, receptors for the Fc part of IgG (FcgammaRs) in the placenta are believed to play a key role. Several known Fc receptors, FcgammaRI, FcgammaRII, FcgammaRIII and FcRn (neonatal FcR), demonstrate heterogeneous expression patterns in placenta. Immunohistochemical analysis shows the expression of FcgammaRI on Hofbauer cells in stromal tissue, FcbetaRII on Hofbauer cells and fetal blood endothelium, FcgammaRIII on Hofbauer cells and trophoblasts, and FcRn on syncytiotrophoblasts and endothelial cells. Recent studies provide evidence for important associations among these receptors and transcytosis of IgG, as well as scavenger mechanisms for clearing immune complexes in the placenta during pregnancy.

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T. Nakazawa, K. Ohashi, M. Yamada, S. Shinoda, F. Saji, Y. Murata, and H. Araki

As a model for establishing an optimized medium for human in vitro fertilization (IVF), modified human tubal fluid (HTF) media containing amino acids at concentrations found in human serum and follicular fluid were prepared, and the effect of the media on development of random-bred (ICR) and F1 hybrid (CBF1) mice embryos was studied. The total concentrations of amino acids found in serum and follicular fluid were about one-third to one-half the concentrations present in two conventional media used in human IVF: Ham's F-10 and Eagle's minimal essential medium (MEM). When ICR mouse embryos were cultured in the HTF medium containing 21 amino acids at concentrations found in follicular fluid, the number of embryos developing to morulae at 72 h and to blastocysts at 96 h increased in comparison with those cultured in HTF medium. When HTF containing amino acids at concentrations found in serum was used, only induced morula formation at 72 h was enhanced. The number of hatching blastocysts at 96 h also increased when CBF1 mouse embryos were cultured with HTF supplemented with amino acids at concentrations found in follicular fluid. When ICR mouse embryos were cultured in modified HTF media containing concentrations of amino acids found in Ham's F-10 and MEM that contained higher concentrations of glutamine, embryo development was inhibited. The amount of ammonium produced during incubation for 3 days was significantly less when embryos were cultured in media containing concentrations of amino acids found in follicular fluid compared with when Ham's F-10 or MEM was the culture medium. Ammonium is produced by the breakdown of glutamine in the culture medium during incubation with or without embryos. These results suggest that the concentrations of amino acids found in follicular fluid are more effective and safer for embryo culture than those in other media currently in use.