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Abstract

The plasma membrane of uterine epithelial cells and its changes during early pregnancy are reviewed. The review first examines morphological alterations in rats and mice and laboratory rodents and finds that similar changes in membrane organization accompany the peri-implantation period: long, thin, regular microvilli are gradually converted into irregular, flattened projections. It is also found however, that in many other species related plasma membrane alterations are seen during early pregnancy. Molecular alterations in the membrane are also examined and although the evidence is so far limited, striking similarities are noted across species. The review also examines some new morphological studies on the alterations in the plasma membrane of uterine epithelial cells during early pregnancy and concludes that a process of plasma membrane transformation may be a common response across species.