Increased uterine vascular permeability and angiogenesis are hallmarks of implantation and placentation. These events are profoundly influenced by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Although VEGF and its receptor Flk-1 are primarily important for uterine vascular permeability and angiogenesis before and during the attachment phase of the implantation process, VEGF together with the angiopoietins and their receptor Tie-2 directs angiogenesis during decidualization after implantation. Upstream of VEGF, estrogen promotes uterine vascular permeability but inhibits angiogenesis, whereas progesterone stimulates angiogenesis with little effect on vascular permeability. Furthermore, COX-2-derived prostaglandins participate in uterine vascular permeability and angiogenesis during implantation and decidualization.
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Vol. 24 • No. 2