Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 12th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Living model of implantation for studying the steps in early pregnancy

10 December 2021

Mother’s Touch

Fragile but full of life, an early embryo must embed in the womb or perish. Attempts to watch the vital process of implantation are often obscured by layers of tissue – but here scientists have found another way. Keeping a mouse embryo alive in nourishing hydrogel inside a microfluidic device, they use live cell imaging to watch as the embryonic cells (highlighted in green) grow arm-like trophoblast giant cells, reaching out for the lining of endothelial cells, similar to those found along the womb’s blood vessels. As the trophoblast makes contact, researchers find the embryo switches on genes to adapt to its new home, connecting up with the blood vessels and finding protection in the soft layers. This living model for implantation may now be used to study the crucial steps in early pregnancy, perhaps revealing ways to guide the process in humans and avoid early miscarriage.

Written by John Ankers

Published in Developmental Cell, November 2021

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.