Single-cell transcriptome profiling of the human endometrium of patients with recurrent implantation failure

Theranostics. 2022 Sep 6;12(15):6527-6547. doi: 10.7150/thno.74053. eCollection 2022.


Introduction: Despite great advances in assisted reproductive technology (ART), recurrent implantation failure (RIF) cannot be effectively avoided. Notably, cellular characteristics and communication that regulate endometrial receptivity and differentiation, and its disorders in RIF at window of implantation (WOI) remain rudimentary. Objectives: In this study, we profiled the endometrial cells present at the WOI timing in RIF patients and healthy controls using single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) and provided a detailed molecular and cellular map of a healthy and RIF endometrium at the WOI. Method: In the current study, the endometrium from RIF patient (n = 6; age range, 32 - 35 years) and control (Ctrl) (n = 3; age range, 29 - 35 years) groups were studied at a single-cell resolution. single-cell RNA-seq and analysis were performed on the endometrium of patients with RIF and Ctrl. Immunofluorescence, flow cytometry assays, and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) were performed to verify cellular identity and function. Results: We profiled the transcriptomes of 60222 primary human endometrial cells isolated from control and RIF patients at a single-cell resolution. We discovered dramatic differential expression of endometrial receptivity-related genes in four major endometrial fibroblast-like cells from RIF patients compared to the control endometrium. We observed that CD49a+CXCR4+NK cells were diminished in proportion with RIF. The decrease in subset of CD63highPGRhigh endometrial epithelial cells with high levels of progesterone receptor, autophagy and exosomes should contribute to the decrease in subset of NK cells. Additionally, we characterized aberrant molecular and cellular characteristics and endometrial cell-cell communication disorders in RIF patients. Conclusion: Our study provides deeper insights into endometrial microenvironment disorder of RIF that are potentially applicable to improving the etiological diagnosis and therapeutics of unexplained RIF.

Keywords: NK cell; endometrial fibroblast-like cell; endometrial receptivity; epithelial cell; recurrent implantation failure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Embryo Implantation / genetics
  • Endometrium / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Integrin alpha1* / genetics
  • Integrin alpha1* / metabolism
  • Receptors, Progesterone* / genetics


  • Integrin alpha1
  • Receptors, Progesterone