Influence of hyaluronan on endometrial receptivity and embryo attachment in sheep

Marei, W F A and Wathes, D C and Raheem, K A and Mohey-Elsaeed, O and Ghafari, F and Fouladi-Nashta, A A (2017) Influence of hyaluronan on endometrial receptivity and embryo attachment in sheep. Reproduction Fertility and Development, 29 (9). pp. 1763-1773.

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Abstract

An increasing number of reports suggests a role of hyaluronan (HA) in female reproduction and interest in its application in assisted reproduction is rising. However, there are contrasting data about the effectiveness of adding HA to the embryo-transfer medium on improving pregnancy rates. Using sheep as an experimental model, the studies reported here analysed the impact of HA infusion into the uterus on embryo attachment to uterine luminal epithelium (LE) and expression of selected markers of uterine receptivity. On Day 14 after natural mating (pre-attachment), uterine horns were infused with either (n = 4 each): PBS (control), HA (1 mg mL–1), HA + hyaluronidase 2 (Hyal2; 300 IU mL–1) or 4-methyl-umbelliferone (HA-synthesis inhibitor; 4MU, 1 mM). HA immunostaining on uterine sections collected on Day 17 was negative in the 4MU group and weak in the HA+Hyal2 group. In contrast to 4MU, which resulted in 100% attachment, HA infusion blocked embryo attachment in all treated animals. This was accompanied by the disappearance of mucin 1 and increased expression of osteopontin and CD44v6 in the LE of uteri with attached embryos. In conclusion, the presence of HA at the embryo–maternal interface during embryo implantation resulted in reduced endometrial receptivity and inhibited the interaction of trophoblasts with the LE, whereas clearance of HA favoured embryo attachment.