Pinopodes: a questionable role in endometrial receptivity

Hum Reprod Update. 2009 Mar-Apr;15(2):229-36. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmn052. Epub 2008 Nov 8.


Background: A better understanding of endometrial receptivity is crucial to the creation and optimization of tests to assess the window of implantation in a clinical setting. Testing endometrial receptivity via scanning electron microscopy of endometrial samples reveals that pinopodes are a very good marker of endometrial receptivity in the rat. There is still disagreement in the literature as to their usefulness as a receptivity marker in both mice and humans.

Methods: Publications related to the discovery, study and usefulness of pinopodes as a marker of endometrial preparation for implantation in both rodents and humans were identified through MEDLINE and other bibliographic databases.

Results: There is substantial evidence that pinopodes are good markers of endometrial receptivity in the rat. Pinopodes are not useful in the mouse or human as consistent markers of endometrial receptivity for implantation. In the human, pinopodes have a prolonged (>5 days) presence in the luteal phase and fail to delineate the brief (24-48 h) window of receptivity.

Conclusions: While there are many publications arising from one group supporting the use of pinopodes as a reliable marker of human endometrial receptivity, few independent groups have been able to confirm these results. The clinical usefulness of pinopodes to delineate a period of endometrial receptivity seems unlikely following recent findings that pinopodes are present throughout the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Embryo Implantation / physiology*
  • Endometrium / physiology*
  • Endometrium / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Gonadal Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Luteal Phase
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Surface Properties
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Gonadal Hormones