3D biomimetic platform reveals the first interactions of the embryo and the maternal blood vessels

Dev Cell. 2021 Dec 6;56(23):3276-3287.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2021.10.014. Epub 2021 Nov 5.


The process of implantation and the cellular interactions at the embryo-maternal interface are intrinsically difficult to analyze, as the implanting embryo is concealed by the uterine tissues. Therefore, the mechanisms mediating the interconnection of the embryo and the mother are poorly understood. Here, we established a 3D biomimetic culture environment that harbors the key features of the murine implantation niche. This culture system enabled direct analysis of trophoblast invasion and revealed the first embryonic interactions with the maternal vasculature. We found that implantation is mediated by the collective migration of penetrating strands of trophoblast giant cells, which acquire the expression of vascular receptors, ligands, and adhesion molecules, assembling a network for communication with the maternal blood vessels. In particular, Pdgf signaling cues promote the establishment of the heterologous contacts. Together, the biomimetic platform and our findings thereof elucidate the hidden dynamics of the early interactions at the implantation site.

Keywords: 3D culture; Pdgf; biomimetic; blastocyst; hydrogel; implantation; microfluidics; mouse; trophoblast; vasculature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomimetics
  • Blastocyst / cytology
  • Blastocyst / metabolism*
  • Blood Vessels / cytology
  • Blood Vessels / metabolism*
  • Cell Communication*
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Movement
  • Embryo Implantation
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism*
  • Embryonic Development*
  • Female
  • Giant Cells / cytology
  • Giant Cells / metabolism
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Pregnancy
  • Trophoblasts / cytology
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism*