Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Molecular, Cellular, and Systemic Physiology
One of the critical periods of time for the establishment of pregnancy is after the onset of implantation but before the establishment of the placenta. In fact, evidence strongly suggests that when abnormalities occur during this period of pregnancy in humans there may be dire consequences such as termination of pregnancy, pre-eclampsia later in pregnancy and small for gestational weight offspring that are less healthy in later life. Therefore, what occurs in the endometrium during the progression of implantation can be crucial for proper fetal development later in pregnancy as well as the health of the offspring. One of the evolving ideas coming from research on the biology of what occurs during early pregnancy is the existence of key bi-directional communications between the conceptus and uterus that may be required for successful pregnancy. Amazingly, some common aspects of this signaling might exist to some extent between mammalian species that have very different modes of implantation and where quite different placentas are formed. Although some conceptus-uterine communication during the progression of decidualization is starting to be worked out, we still have much to learn about the precise details of the entire repertoire of the molecular signals responsible. In the rodent we still have to clearly find and define the biology of important paracrine factors produced by the conceptus that target cells of the endometrium during this period of time when the endometrium is undergoing decidualization. This review focuses on some of the approaches that have been used in the past and what has been learned about the effect of the conceptus on the decidualization of the rodent uterus. Where possible, this is compared and contrasted to what is currently known in other species that exhibit quite different modes of implantation.
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