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Centre for Trophoblast Research


Early development of the human placenta; potential role of the endometrial gland secretions

Professor Graham Burton

The role of the endometrial glands during human early pregnancy has largely been ignored once implantation is complete. However, we have recently demonstrated that the glands are an important source of nutrients for the conceptus during the first trimester. The glandular secretions also contain a rich mix of growth factors and cytokines, and so play a role in regulating early placental development, modulating trophoblast proliferation and differentiation. In other species, such as the sheep and rabbit, there is good evidence that the secretions are essential for promoting growth of the conceptus. It is also known that in these species signals from the conceptus increase the production of glandular secretions to meet its demands. Our interests now are to identify how endometrial gland secretions are regulated in human early pregnancy, their composition, and their effects on trophoblast behaviour. The project may tackle one or more of these topics depending on the interests of the student. It is likely that the project will involve a mix of cell culture, cell signalling analysis and molecular biology. 

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Burton GJ, Jauniaux E, Charnock-Jones DS (2007), Human early placental development: potential roles of the endometrial glands. Placenta, 28 Suppl. A. S64-69