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Hum Reprod Update. 2005 May-Jun;11(3):215-28. Epub 2005 Mar 24.

The role of paf in embryo physiology.

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  • 1Human Reproduction Unit, Department of Physiology, University of Sydney, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, NSW, 2065, Australia.


Embryo-derived paf (1-o-alkyl-2-acetyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine) is produced by de novo synthesis. This synthesis commences soon after fertilization and persists throughout the preimplantation phase. Paf is produced and released by the embryos of all mammalian species studied to date. Its release from the embryo involves binding to extracellular albumin in a manner that protects paf from enzymatic degradation. Released paf causes a range of alterations in maternal physiology, including platelet activation, changes in oviductal, endometrial and maternal immune function. Paf also acts in an autocrine fashion as a trophic/survival factor for the early embryo. In vitro, supplementation of culture media with paf improves embryo development. Embryo-derived paf's autocrine actions are transduced by 1-o-phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase, which induces characteristic calcium transients within the early embryo. The calcium transients require both the influx of external calcium and release of inositol trisphosphate-dependent internal calcium stores. Buffering these transients compromised embryo development in a manner that was reversed by exogenous paf. Assisted reproductive technologies compromise the production of paf by some embryos and retard the expression of the paf receptor. This deprivation of paf's action is one of the factors limiting the survivability of embryos produced by assisted reproductive technologies. Paf is one of several autocrine and paracrine trophic/survival factors that act on the early embryo. These factors probably act cooperatively and may, to some degree, be mutually redundant. As the earliest-released and the best-described embryotrophin, paf provides an important exemplar for understanding the role of ligand-mediated trophic support of the early embryo.

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