Tubal transport of gametes and embryos: a review of physiology and pathophysiology

J Assist Reprod Genet. 2014 Oct;31(10):1337-47. doi: 10.1007/s10815-014-0309-x. Epub 2014 Aug 13.


With the advent of assisted reproductive technology in the past three decades, the clinical importance of fallopian tubes has been relatively overlooked. However, successful spontaneous conception requires normal function of the tube to provide not only a conduit for the gametes to convene and embryo to reach the uterine cavity, but also a physiologically optimized environment for fertilization and early embryonic development. In this review, after a brief description of normal human tubal anatomy and histology, we will discuss tubal transport and its principal effectors, including ciliary motion, muscular contractility and tubal fluid. Furthermore, we will discuss the ciliary ultrastructure and regulation of ciliary beat frequency by ovarian steroids, follicular fluid, angiotensin system, autonomic nervous system and other factors such as adrenomedullin and prostaglandins. In the last section, we describe the adverse impact of various pathological conditions, such as endometriosis, infection and smoking on tubal function and ciliary motility.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fallopian Tubes / pathology*
  • Fallopian Tubes / physiology*
  • Female
  • Germ Cells / pathology*
  • Germ Cells / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted
  • Uterus / pathology
  • Uterus / physiology