Human embryo implantation is a complex process involving blastocyst attachment to the endometrial epithelium and subsequent trophoblast invasion of the decidua. Chemokines, critical regulators of leukocyte migration, are abundant in endometrial epithelial and decidual cells at this time. We hypothesized that endometrial chemokines stimulate trophoblast invasion. Chemokine receptors CX3CR1 and CCR1 were immunolocalized in human first-trimester implantation sites, specifically to endovascular extravillous trophoblasts, but not to the invading interstitial EVTs (iEVTs), with weak staining also on syncytium. CCR3 was localized to invading iEVTs and to microvilli on the syncytial surface. Expression of CX3CL1 (fractalkine), CCL7 (MCP-3), and their receptors (CX3CR1, CCR1, CCR2, CCR3, and CCR5) mRNA was examined in cellular components of the maternal-embryonic interface by RT-PCR. Both chemokines were abundant in entire endometrium and placenta, endometrial cells (primary cultures and HES, a human endometrial epithelial cell line) and trophoblast cell lines (JEG-3, ACIM-88, and ACIM-32). Chemokine receptor mRNA was expressed by placenta and trophoblast cell lines: CCR1 by all trophoblast cell types, whereas CCR2, CCR3, and CX3CR1 were more variable. CX3CR1, CCR1, CCR2, and CCR5 were also expressed by endometrial cells. Migration assays used the trophoblast cell line most closely resembling extravillous cytotrophoblast (AC1M-88). Trophoblast migration occurred in response to CX3CL1, CCL14, and CCL4, but not CCL7. Endometrial cell-conditioned media also stimulated trophoblast migration; this was attenuated by neutralizing antibodies to CX3CL1 and CCL4. Thus, chemokines are expressed by maternal and embryonic cells during implantation, whereas corresponding receptors are on trophoblast cells. Promotion of trophoblast migration by chemokines and endometrial cell conditioned medium indicates an important involvement of chemokines in maternal-fetal communication.
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