Human Endometrial Exosomes Contain Hormone-Specific Cargo Modulating Trophoblast Adhesive Capacity: Insights into Endometrial-Embryo Interactions Academic Article uri icon


  • Embryo implantation into receptive endometrium requires synergistic endometrial-blastocyst interactions within the uterine cavity and is essential for establishing pregnancy. We demonstrate that exosomes (40-150 nm nanovesicles) released from endometrial epithelial cells are an important component of these interactions. We defined the proteome of purified endometrial epithelial-derived exosomes (Exos) influenced by menstrual cycle hormones estrogen (E; proliferative phase) and estrogen plus progesterone (EP; receptive phase) and examined their potential to modify trophoblast function. E-/EP-Exos were uniquely enriched with 254 and 126 proteins, respectively, with 35% newly identified proteins not previously reported in exosome databases. Importantly, EP-Exos protein cargo was related to fundamental changes in implantation: adhesion, migration, invasion, and extracellular matrix remodeling. These findings from hormonally treated ECC1 endometrial cancer cells were validated in human primary uterine epithelial cell-derived exosomes. Functionally, exosomes were internalized by human trophoblast cells and enhanced their adhesive capacity, a response mediated partially through active focal adhesion kinase (FAK) signaling. Thus, exosomes contribute to the endometrial-embryo interactions within the human uterine microenvironment essential for successful implantation.

publication date

  • 2016