Comparative aspects of implantation.
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Uterine receptivity to implantation of blastocysts in mammals includes hatching from zona pellucida, precontact with uterine luminal (LE) and superficial glandular (sGE) epithelia and orientation of blastocyst, apposition between trophectoderm and uterine LE and sGE, adhesion of trophectoderm to uterine LE/sGE, and, in some species, limited or extensive invasion into the endometrial stroma and induction of decidualization of stromal cells. These peri-implantation events are prerequisites for pregnancy recognition signaling, implantation, and placentation required for fetal-placental growth and development through the remainder of pregnancy. Although there is a range of strategies for implantation in mammals, a common feature is the requirement for progesterone (P(4)) to downregulate expression of its receptors in uterine epithelia and P(4) prior to implantation events. P(4) then mediates its effects via growth factors expressed by stromal cells in most species; however, uterine luminal epithelium may express a growth factor in response to P(4) and/or estrogens in species with a true epitheliochorial placenta. There is also compelling evidence that uterine receptivity to implantation involves temporal and cell-specific expression of interferon (IFN)-stimulated genes that may be induced directly by an IFN or induced by P(4) and stimulated by an IFN. These genes have many roles including nutrient transport, cellular remodeling, angiogenesis and relaxation of vascular tissues, cell proliferation and migration, establishment of an antiviral state, and protection of conceptus tissues from challenges by the maternal immune cells.