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Gap junction protein vital to successful pregnancy, researchers find
Date:9/10/2008

of the factors secreted by the endometrial cells, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), is essential to angiogenesis. In the absence of Cx43, Laws found, the cells failed to differentiate or to produce enough VEGF to spur blood vessel growth.

"The formation of these new blood vessels is extremely critical for embryonic growth at this stage of pregnancy, when the embryo has begun to invade into the uterine tissue, but has yet to make a connection to the placenta where it ultimately gets its nutrients," said Illinois veterinary biosciences professor Indrani Bagchi, corresponding author on the study. "I think this is the first animal model that shows that disruption of one particular molecule or gene leads to a defect in uterine angiogenesis."

The findings have important implications for early pregnancy loss and female infertility, she said.

"A fundamental aspect of female reproductive biology is how these hormones signal in uterine tissue in order to support the pregnancy," said molecular and integrative physiology professor Milan Bagchi, an author on the study. "One of our major goals is to identify the genes that are regulated by estrogen and progesterone precisely at the time when the embryo implants in the uterine wall."

"Connexin 43 has been shown to be in the uterus in many animal systems cows and pigs and rodents and humans," Laws said. "But this is the first time that it's been shown to be critical for pregnancy."


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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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