High-quality human preimplantation embryos stimulate endometrial stromal cell migration via secretion of microRNA hsa-miR-320a

Robbert P. Berkhout, Remco Keijser, Sjoerd Repping, Cornelis B. Lambalk, Gijs B. Afink, Sebastiaan Mastenbroek, Geert Hamer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


STUDY QUESTION: How do high-quality human preimplantation embryos influence the endometrium to promote their own implantation? SUMMARY ANSWER: High-quality human preimplantation embryos secrete a specific microRNA (miRNA), hsa-miR-320a, which promotes migration of human endometrial stromal cells (hESCs). WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: We have previously shown that high-quality human preimplantation embryos excrete unknown factors that influence migration of hESCs. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: Embryo excreted miRNAs, specifically those excreted by high-quality embryos, were identified and their effect on hESCs was determined by measuring the migration capacity and gene expression patterns of primary isolated hESCs. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Embryo conditioned medium (ECM) from routine ICSI procedures was used to identify embryo excreted miRNAs. miRNome analyses were performed on ECM from individually cultured embryos with high morphological quality, with low morphological quality or empty control medium. MiRNA mimics and inhibitors were then used to further study the effect of miRNAs of interest on migration and gene expression of hESCs. Migration assays were performed using hESCs that were obtained from endometrial biopsies performed on hysterectomy specimens from women that received surgery for spotting due to a niche in a cesarean section scar. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: By using miRNA mimics and inhibitors, we showed that hsa-miR-320a alone can stimulate migration of decidualized hESCs, accurately resembling the response typically triggered only by high-quality embryos. Transcriptome analysis further demonstrated that this effect is very likely mediated via altered expression of genes involved in cell adhesion and cytoskeleton organization. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: The effect of hsa-miR-320a on hESCs was measured in vitro. Further studies on the in vivo effect of hsa-miR-320a are warranted. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Implantation failure is one of the major success limiting factors in human reproduction. By secreting hsa-miR-320a, high-quality human preimplantation embryos directly influence hESCs, most likely to prime the endometrium at the implantation site for successful implantation. Together, our results indicate that hsa-miR-320a may be a promising target to further increase success rates in assisted reproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1797-1807
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

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