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Keywords:

  • uterine luminal epithelium;
  • marmoset monkey;
  • electron microscopy;
  • ultrastructure;
  • microvilli;
  • anionic sites;
  • steroid receptors;
  • early pregnancy

Abstract

Light and electron microscopy was used to examine the apical luminal epithelial surface of the uterus at preovulatory and preimplantation stages in the marmoset monkey. Luminal surface charge, detected by cationic ferritin staining, progressively decreased from preovulation to day 11 of pregnancy. The smooth, regular apical plasma membrane at preovulatory stages was in contrast to the convoluted, irregular surface observed during early pregnancy, especially at 1 day before blastocyst implantation. Profiles of microvilli were also altered, becoming thicker and more irregular during early pregnancy. Within the epithelial cell body, cyclic morphologic changes were seen, largely in association with secretory organelles. Giant phagocytic bodies were prominent at all stages examined, although their composition and intensity of staining varied throughout the cycle. Weak to moderate estrogen alpha and progesterone receptor immunostaining of the luminal epithelium was found during preovulatory and early pregnancy stages. This study describes complex cyclic changes in the morphology and biochemical make-up of the uterine luminal epithelial surface in a New World monkey in preparation for blastocyst attachment. Anat Rec 264:82–92, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.