Spanish researchers decode the cellular behavior of the human endometrium for the first time



Researchers from the Igenomix-INCLIVA Foundation in collaboration with Stanford University and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, have decoded for the first time the cellular behavior of the endometrium human, which is the mucosa of the uterus where the embryo implants in order to initiate gestation. The finding has been published in the latest issue of the scientific journal “Nature Medicine”, with a great international impact for its contribution to the understanding of the functioning of the uterus and its repercussions on the health of women.

This cellular decoding of the endometrium «is the rosette stone to understand the functioning of this important reproductive organ“, Their work will give the medical and scientific community the opportunity to” better understand the diseases that cause infertility at the uterine level, “according to the research leaders, Professor Carlos Simón and Dr. Felipe Vilella, from the Igenomix Foundation.

The work, entitled “Single-cell transcriptomic atlas of the human endometrium during the menstrual cycle”, reveals for the first time the behavior of each of the endometrial cell types during the menstrual cycle and how they are related to each other.

«Now that we know the endometrial cellular behavior, opens a great opportunity to understand unknown aspects in diseases such as endometriosis, preeclampsia, implantation failure or endometrial cancer», Explains Professor Simón.

Despite the relevance of the human endometrium, especially in the reproductive stage of women, the understanding of the functioning of this organ remained limited to this day. Therefore, the researchers set out to study the functioning of each of the different cell types that compose it, throughout the menstrual cycle. To do this, they performed the analysis by isolating individual cells and analyzing the expression of their genes, on a total of 73,180 cells obtained from the endometrium of 27 healthy women of reproductive age.

The study revealed the dynamics of cell progression in the menstrual cycle, identifying that the endometrium is mainly made up of 6 cell types, one of them discovered in the research: ciliated epithelial cells.

In addition, researchers have determined when and how the implantation window opens, the only time when the endometrium is ready to start pregnancy.

“One of the great findings of this work, in addition to the cell pattern, is the discovery of the mechanism of the embryo’s implantation window. We have observed that it is activated immediately by genes of the epithelial cells, which will be in contact with the embryo at the time of initiation of pregnancy, and not progressively as previously thought “, explains Dr. Vilella about his job.

«Endometrial cells, which now offer us all the information about the ideal time to transfer the embryo in a treatment of Assisted reproductioncan be obtained by means of an endometrial liquid biopsy, so finding the implantation window to know when is the moment when the endometrium is receptive will be much simpler, faster and painless ”, explains Professor Simón.

“For Igenomix, the endometrium has always been a top concern. We were the developers of the ERA, an endometrial receptivity test that has allowed pregnancy in infertile patients who were unable to gestate because their implantation window was displaced, something that happens in 3 out of 10 women with recurrent implantation failure. Now, with this study, we have gone a step further and we will surely change the reproductive prognosis of many women because the process can be simplified to the point of making it universal “, says Professor Carlos Simón, director of the SAB (Scientific Advisory Board) of Igenomix and developer of the ERA Test.

«Our results reveal new knowledge in understanding the functioning of the endometrium, in terms of the growth and organization of the different cells that form it, so that the correct functioning of the organ takes place in each menstrual cycle. This finding enables other scientists studying endometrial diseases to compare diseased cells with healthy cells, helping the development of new therapies or new drugs, ”the researchers conclude.

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