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Scientists find new information about embryo implantation

Charlotte Maden

Progress Educational Trust

06 October 2008

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[BioNews, London]

Scientists at the University of Oxford, UK, believe they have identified the way in which embryos implant in the uterus, providing essential information which may be used in the future for infertility treatments and offering hope to thousands of infertile couples.

Implantation of an embryo to the lining of the mother's uterus is an essential process that takes place at an early stage of development. The embryo initially attaches and forms a contact with the uterus lining, which triggers a cascade of signals in both the embryo and the uterus. This allows cells from the embryo to start moving across into the uterus, finding blood vessels in the mother and eventually forming the placenta.

Problems in the implantation process can lead to loss of potential pregnancies, even in couples trying to conceive without infertility problems. Current estimates suggest that infertility affects one in seven couples in the UK, with around 32,000 couples seeking infertility treatment each year. It is thought that a significant number of these patients could be infertile as a result of implantation problems.

The team of scientists, led by Professor Helen Mardon from the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Oxford, along with Professor Anne J Ridley at King's College, London, added embryos to a layer of cells from uterus lining in a culture dish to mimic events in the womb. They were then able to video embryos implanting themselves in the cell layer, allowing the scientists to dissect the molecular processes involved. Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Their investigation led them identify two proteins that are essential players in the implantation process. They are from the Rho GTPase family of proteins, and ensure that cells in a particular part of the uterus lining move out of the way of the 'invading' embryonic cells.

Professor Mardon said: 'We have shown that two proteins, called Rac1 and RhoA, control the invasion. The first stimulates cells in the womb lining to move and allow the embryo to invade and implant properly while the second inhibits this. We believe this controlled balance of the two proteins is critical for successful implantation of the embryo. If the balance of Rho GTPases is altered, the cells of the womb lining don't migrate and the embryo doesn't implant'.

The findings bring new hope to people with infertility issues. The new information will help the understanding of how this process works, and therefore aid 'the development of drugs to help embryos implant properly', said Prof Mardon.



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© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 06 October 2008   Date Updated: 06 October 2008
Reviews (5)
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stuart alun jones   23 March 2013
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having read this report,my wife has had problems with implantation, is there any product or food that you would recommend that would help us in anyway?
Nora V   01 February 2013
Embryo implantation site
I wonder if these findings could help experts predict where in the uterus an embryo will implant. If the proteins mentioned are critical to implantation, is there a way to determine which uterine segment contains the greatest amount of these proteins? I wonder if areas of implantation also contain the most vibrant blood vessels or healthiest tissue. If so, perhaps this could provide insight into low implantation complications, resulting in placenta previa.
gaurav   16 August 2011
clinical work
that's very interesting but we need to work more on this research, so that it will become commercially available for human welfare... thanks GOD 4 making genes.. a clue to solve puzzle ..
suhas mhaiskar   03 July 2011
new reasons for ivf failures
endometrial receptivity is the key factor in getting sucess. This research may improve sucess by improving the recetivity


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