This study was conducted to develop an in vitro model using rat uterine explants to explore complex uterine functions. Rat uterine explants (1–2 mm) were isolated, cultured and further characterized. Steroid hormone treatment of cultured explants showed that both Muc1 and Pr were significantly up-regulated (P < 0.05) by E2. Areg was significantly up-regulated (P < 0.05) by P4 and Igfbp1 was significantly up-regulated (P < 0.05) by the combination of E2 and P4, although, in rat, Igfbp1 is E2-dependent. In vitro decidualization of cultured explants was induced and two potential markers of decidualization, Prl8a2 and Bmp2, were examined. Real-time quantitative PCR data revealed that both Prl8a2 and Bmp2 were significantly up-regulated (P < 0.05) in MPA- and db-cAMP-treated explants compared to the control group of explants. Then, an individual hatched blastocyst and cultured explant was placed in a 96-well (round-bottom U-shaped) plate. Co-culture results showed that stable attachments were observed after 48 h, where embryos were stably attached to the explants and could not be dislodged after mild shaking and/or pipetting. The rates of attachment of embryos to the explants were increased significantly in the P4-treated group (63.6%) compared to the control group (35.5%), after steroid hormone treatment. The rates of attachment were reduced significantly in the E2-treated group (0.0%), where no stable attachments were observed. Despite the necessity of comprehensive investigation, our results suggest that the cultured rat uterine explants can be a useful in vitro model to study uterine functions and early implantation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cell Biology