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J Immunol. 2008 Mar 15;180(6):4330-7.

Analysis of HLA-G in maternal plasma, follicular fluid, and preimplantation embryos reveal an asymmetric pattern of expression.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Essex, United Kingdom.


Soluble HLA-G (sHLA-G) secretion by human preimplantation embryos in culture has been associated with successful embryo development, and therefore has potential to serve as a noninvasive marker of embryo viability. We have examined the spatial and temporal expression of HLA-G in embryos of varying developmental competence and the role of maternal factors in human embryonic HLA-G expression. Embryos that reached blastocyst stage on day 5 showed a higher frequency of sHLA-G secretion than those at morula or arrested stages (p < 0.05). There was no significant difference in sHLA-G secretion between normal embryos and those diagnosed as chromosomally abnormal by preimplantation genetic diagnosis. HLA-G detected in maternal plasma and follicular fluid did not appear to correlate with HLA-G expressed in the embryo or embryo supernatants. Confocal microscopy analysis indicated that HLA-G protein expression in embryos was not homogeneous; mostly, it was confined to blastocysts localized on trophectoderm and trophectoderm projections. Single-particle fluorescent imaging analysis of HLA-G on the cell surface of JEG-3 cells showed that HLA-G particles were mostly monomeric, but dimeric and higher order oligomers were also observed. These results suggest that HLA-G play an important role in preimplantation embryo development. However, the observed expression of HLA-G in arrested and chromosomally abnormal embryos indicates that HLA-G testing should be used with caution and in conjunction with conventional methods of embryo screening and selection.

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