In Vitro Systems to Study Embryo-Maternal Interactions
Is it possible to set up an in vitro culture system which will mimic implantation in vivo? Such a system would have to accommodate acquisition of receptivity of the endometrial cells, apposition and adhesion of the trophectoderm to the endometrial epithelial layer and, if appropriate to the species, penetration of the endometrium and the subsequent modifications to the subepithelial cells and the penetrating trophoblast. In 1981, Enders et al., critically compared the in vitro systems which were available at the time and said that there is no such thing as in vitro implantation, although “it is possible to make models, if not of normal implantation, at least of ectopic implantation”. Significant advances in the techniques of cell culture have occurred in the past decade which, when applied to endometrium and blastocyst, have allowed us to study the interaction of the blastocyst and endometrium in vitro in a way which is better defined and more successful than was possible previously. Only time will tell whether or not these new in vitro models for studying embryo-maternal interactions are more relevant than earlier models. There have also been major advances in our understanding of the cytokines and other local regulatory substances acting between the trophectoderm and endometrium and within the endometrium, knowledge about the role of the extracellular matrix in cellular function, and information about mesenchymal-epithelial interactions.
KeywordsCarbohydrate Estrogen Progesterone Mast
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