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Hum Reprod. 1995 Mar;10(3):712-8.

Roles of growth factors during peri-implantation development.

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  • 1Department of Medical Biochemistry, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Several growth factor ligand and receptor gene products have been shown to play roles during preimplantation mammalian development. Genes for insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), transforming growth factors (TGFs), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and receptors for insulin, IGF, PDGF, TGF alpha and epidermal growth factor (EGF) are expressed by early embryos of several species including mouse, rat, cow and sheep. Roles of growth factors during early development have been demonstrated by addition of purified growth factors to culture medium or by molecular genetic techniques that interfere with gene expression. In this way, it has been shown that successful development of the blastocyst is dependent on the action of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF). Recent experiments show that both LIF and EGF stimulate secretion of urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and gelatinase B/matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) in day 7 mouse blastocyst outgrowths. At the same time, tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs) are also expressed by embryonic, decidual and uterine tissues during the implantation process. It appears that LIF may act directly or indirectly, by inducing the expression of other cytokines, to regulate the temporal and spatial production and activity of proteases and protease inhibitors to create a favourable environment for implantation.

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