The process of blastocyst implantation is a series of interactions between the blastocyst and maternal tissues. The purpose of this process is (1) to provide nourishment to the embryo for developmental growth in appropriate physiological and endocrinological environment until a placenta is established, and (2) to protect the (semi-)allogeneic embryo from any attacks from the maternal immune system. To facilitate successful implantation, therefore, these two aspects of the embryonic demand must be satisfied in the embryo-maternal interface throughout the entire process of implantation. The first concept I present in this paper is that blastocyst implantation essential factors (BIEFs) have dual functions: one, for structural and functional modification of the endometrium to accommodate the developing embryo and provide nourishment and suitable environment for its development, and the other, for modulation, directly or indirectly, of the maternal immune system to prevent attacks by the maternal immune system. The second concept is that BIEFs convert the endometrium (or uterus) from an immunologically non-privileged site to a privileged site. This endometrial (uterine) conversion is the immunological aspect of the blastocyst implantation process. When the endometrium has become receptive for blastocyst implantation, it signifies that the immunological conversion of the endometrium by BIEFs has been sufficiently attained to let the embryo start contacting maternal tissues. During the early stages of placentation, as the trophoblast cells differentiate and make their way to the maternal blood vessels to establish the placenta, BIEFs continuously provide nourishment and immunological protection to the developing embryo. The immunological protection of the embryo/fetus from potential attacks by the maternal immune system appears to reach a peak at the time of establishment of the placenta. Thus, clarification of the roles of BIEFs in both the physiological/endocrinological aspect as well as the immunological aspect is essential for understanding the biological process of implantation.
"On the other hand, sialic acid can block the access of antigenic molecules to the cell surface  while NPL from C. perfringens can dramatically increase (25×) the capacity of B cell antigen presentation . It is possible that NPL might be involved in modulating the uterine immune response during early stages of embryo implantation . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: N-acetylneuraminate pyruvate lyase (NPL) catalyzes N-acetylneuraminic acid, the predominant sialic acid. Microarray analysis of the periimplantation mouse uterine luminal epithelium (LE) revealed Npl being the most downregulated (35×) gene in the LE upon embryo implantation. In natural pregnant mouse uterus, Npl expression increased 56× from gestation day 0.5 (D0.5) to D2.5. In ovariectomized mouse uterus, Npl was significantly upregulated by progesterone (P4) but downregulated by 17β-estradiol (E2). Progesterone receptor (PR) antagonist RU486 blocked the upregulation of Npl in both preimplantation uterus and P4-treated ovariectomized uterus. Npl was specifically localized in the preimplantation D2.5 and D3.5 uterine LE. Since LE is essential for establishing uterine receptivity, it was hypothesized that NPL might play a critical role in uterine function, especially during embryo implantation. This hypothesis was tested in the Npl ((-/-)) mice. No significant differences were observed in the numbers of implantation sites on D4.5, gestation periods, litter sizes, and postnatal offspring growth between wild type (WT) and Npl ((-/-)) females from mating with WT males. Npl ((-/-))xNpl ((-/-)) crosses produced comparable little sizes as that from WTxWT crosses. Comparable mRNA expression levels of several genes involved in sialic acid metabolism were observed in D3.5 uterus and uterine LE between WT and Npl ((-/-)), indicating no compensatory upregulation in the D3.5 Npl ((-/-)) uterus and LE. This study demonstrates PR-mediated dynamic expression of Npl in the periimplantation uterus and dispensable role of Npl in uterine function and embryo development.
PLoS ONE 05/2013; 8(5):e65607. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0065607 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Embryo implantation involves in 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.
Molecular Aspects of Medicine 01/2013; 34(5):939-80. DOI:10.1016/j.mam.2012.12.011 · 10.24 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Uterine luminal epithelium (LE) is critical for establishing uterine receptivity. Microarray analysis of gestation day 3.5 (D3.5, preimplantation) and D4.5 (postimplantation) LE from natural pregnant mice identified 382 upregulated and 245 downregulated genes in the D4.5 LE. Gene Ontology annotation grouped 186 upregulated and 103 downregulated genes into 22 and 15 enriched subcategories, respectively, in regulating DNA-dependent transcription, metabolism, cell morphology, ion transport, immune response, apoptosis, signal transduction, and so on. Signaling pathway analysis revealed 99 genes in 21 significantly changed signaling pathways, with 14 of these pathways involved in metabolism. In situ hybridization confirmed the temporal expression of 12 previously uncharacterized genes, including Atp6v0a4, Atp6v0d2, F3, Ggh, Tmprss11d, Tmprss13, Anpep, Fxyd4, Naip5, Npl, Nudt19, and Tpm1 in the periimplantation uterus. This study provides a comprehensive picture of the differentially expressed genes in the periimplantation LE to help understand the molecular mechanism of LE transformation upon establishment of uterine receptivity.
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