The quest to create safer and more successful pregnancies is one of the main goals of modern science. Although pregnancy is better understood today than ever before, with technological improvements helping to reduce the risk of negative consequences, many researchers still do not know a vital part of the pregnancy process: uterine fluid.
Secreted by the glands of the uterus during pregnancy, uterine fluid is believed to play an important role in supporting a developing embryo by sending information from the uterus to the embryo, as well as a host of other functions. speculated. But studying this fluid in women presents a myriad of dilemmas, as studies may require invasive monitoring or experimentation during an active pregnancy.
Now, in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers at the University of Missouri found a way to study uterine fluid in the lab, thereby avoiding invasive procedures during pregnancy, while developing a potential model for using precision medicine to improve outcomes. the pregnancy.
“Using organoids derived from stem cells, we were able to isolate an analog from uterine fluid in the laboratory,” said Constantine Simintiras, postdoctoral researcher in the Animal Sciences Division of the College of Agriculture, Food and Resources. natural. “For such an under-studied part of human pregnancy, being able to grow and study this fluid in the lab greatly facilitates our understanding of this important function of the uterus.
Working in the laboratory of Thomas Spencer, member of the National Academy of Sciences, Thomas Spencer, Simintiras and his colleagues used “organoids” – simplified versions of the tissue that forms the lining of the uterus, derived from stem cells – as a source of a fluid that closely resembles the uterus. fluid. Inside the body, the uterine glands secrete this fluid to support sperm migration and early embryo development.
Using organoids as a template not only avoids the potential problems associated with sample extraction during pregnancy, but also paves the way for a precision medicine approach to maintain a healthy pregnancy. The hope is that by obtaining stem cells from pregnant women, before they even conceive, researchers could study the makeup of their uterine fluid to determine if any problems are present. For example, a deficiency of NAD + – a “coenzyme” considered crucial for metabolism – has been linked to birth defects and miscarriage.
“We know that the composition of uterine fluid is extremely important, so we have to understand how this composition is regulated,” said Simintiras. “In women, it’s probably influenced by hormones, but are there other factors at play? This laboratory study model gives us a way to address these questions, and in the future, it could help us detect and correct uterine fluid problems before they lead to complications. “
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