Trophoblast L-selectin-mediated adhesion at the maternal-fetal interface

Science. 2003 Jan 17;299(5605):405-8. doi: 10.1126/science.1079546.


Trophoblast adhesion to the uterine wall is the requisite first step of implantation and, subsequently, placentation. At the maternal-fetal interface, we investigated the expression of selectin adhesion systems that enable leukocyte capture from the bloodstream. On the maternal side, human uterine epithelial cells up-regulated selectin oligosaccharide-based ligands during the window of receptivity. On the fetal side, human trophoblasts expressed L-selectin. This ligand-receptor system was functional, because beads coated with the selectin ligand 6-sulfo sLe(x) bound to trophoblasts, and trophoblasts bound to ligand-expressing uterine luminal epithelium in tissue sections. These results suggest that trophoblast L-selectin mediates interactions with the uterus and that this adhesion mechanism may be critical to establishing human pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies
  • Blastocyst / physiology
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Embryo Implantation*
  • Endometrium / cytology
  • Endometrium / metabolism
  • Endometrium / physiology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Follicular Phase
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Jurkat Cells
  • L-Selectin / immunology
  • L-Selectin / metabolism*
  • Ligands
  • Luteal Phase
  • Mice
  • Microspheres
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism*
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Pregnancy
  • Sialyl Lewis X Antigen
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism
  • Trophoblasts / physiology*
  • Up-Regulation


  • Antibodies
  • Ligands
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Sialyl Lewis X Antigen
  • L-Selectin