ESHRE CAMPUS

Exploring the embryo-maternal interface: ESHRE Campus Workshop to unveil cutting-edge research

Maastricht

Published 28 September 2023

ESHRE is thrilled to announce an exciting campus workshop, taking place in Maastricht, on the 2nd and 3rd of October. Brought to you by the Special Interest Groups Endometriosis and Endometrial Disorders, and Stem Cells, this workshop will delve into the intricate interplay between the developing embryo and maternal endometrium. We are excited to bring together a panel of prominent experts in the field who will share their latest insights and research findings.

Understanding endometrial function and the early embryo-maternal interface is an important prerequisite for refining clinical approaches to mitigate implantation failure, early pregnancy loss and other obstetric complications. Yet, many aspects of embryo implantation remain enigmatic. Governed by intricate endocrine mechanisms, the exchanges at the embryo-maternal interface are profoundly complex, while the inherent challenges of accessing the in vivo environment and the scarcity of research materials, further impede study efforts. Nonetheless, the commitment to unraveling the mysteries of embryo implantation remains unwavering.

This ESHRE campus workshop offers an invaluable opportunity to delve into the intricacies of the embryo-maternal interface, with a distinct emphasis on the role of new technologies in shaping this landscape. Cutting-edge omics techniques have revealed important mechanistic insights into endometrial biology and disorders of the endometrium, while emerging research platforms, such as organoids and artificial embryos, have enhanced our ability to model the synergies and individual features of the embryo-maternal environment.

As we navigate the enigmatic facets of implantation, the workshop will begin with an exploration of the endometrium, presented by Dr. Carlos Simón. His work has described the transcriptomic transformations of the human endometrium at single-cell resolution throughout the menstrual cycle. These integrated analyses have also paved the way for the creation of an atlas describing the dysfunctional endometrial niche – a valuable resource for understanding endometrial disorders.

In this same session, Dr. Dharani Hapangama will delve deeper into cellular heterogeneity within the endometrium, providing detailed insights into the expression signatures that underlie endometrial disorders. Her research is dedicated to understanding the three dimensional organisation, function and regeneration of the human endometrium to address unmet clinical needs in gynaecology.

In the next session, focus will shift to the embryo. Dr. Vincent Pasque, will provide an overview of the role of epigenetics in regulating embryo development and implantation. His work, incorporating state-of-the-art, allele-resolution single-cell transcriptomics and epigenomics profiling techniques, has focused on unraveling the intricate gene regulatory programs that guide differentiation toward the trophoblast lineage.

Dr. Frederic Lluis Vinas will subsequently offer insights into the early stages of mammalian development, placing a specific emphasis on the role of Wnt signaling in regulating early developmental processes. His work has contributed to the understanding of the complex interplay between epiblast and primitive endoderm lineage segregation during preimplantation development.

We will then transition to innovative research models for studying the embryo-endometrial interface. Dr. Joris Vriens will shed light on the potential of endometrial organoids, an emerging research tool derived from adult progenitor cells, that offer a remarkable capacity to mimic the endometrium. Dr Vriens’ work has involved the development of multiple organoid models that capture the diversity of endometrial diseases.

Dr. Erik Vrij will then lead us into the realm of embryo models. Unlike embryos resulting from the process of fertilisation, these structures are generated by harnessing the potential of stem cells. Dr. Vrij's efforts have directly contributed to the creation of blastoids, models that closely resemble blastocysts. With advances in high resolution genetic analysis and imaging technologies, research using blastoids certainly hold promise as a scalable platform for dissecting developmental pathways.

The embryo-maternal interface will take center stage in the fourth session. Here, Dr. Roser Vento-Tormo will share her work, which leverages single-cell and spatial transcriptomics to unravel the complexities of the maternal-foetal interface during early pregnancy. Her research has unveiled novel cell states and illuminated their pivotal role in regulating inflammation, ensuring the harmonious coexistence of both mother and developing foetus.

Dr. Christopher Penfold will then guide a discussion focusing on the divergence in extraembryonic tissues and implantation strategies employed across different mammalian species. His work has involved metabolic profiling of single-cell embryo data in six mammalian species, adding depth and perspective to the delicate balance that underlies a successful pregnancy.

Chromosomal abnormalities play a significant role in implantation failure, and in this context, Masoud Zamani Esteki will elucidate innovative technologies for characterising genomic aberrations in human embryos. His work aims to shed light on the latest advancements in understanding how and when our earliest cells contend with genetic abnormalities.

Dr. Frank J. Broekmans will then provide a glimpse into the future, exploring how emerging technologies will reshape the landscape of reproductive medicine in the coming years. With a history of key contributions to the field, his visionary perspective will illuminate the exciting possibilities on the horizon, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of the field.

The workshop will culminate with a captivating leap into the world of space research in reproductive science. Dr. Varsha Jain will offer interesting insights into space gynaecology, exploring the impact of space conditions on endometrial function. Dr. Jain’s contributions extend beyond the traditional boundaries of academia, as she has been sought after for her insights into the practical challenges faced by women astronauts in space.

Jan-Bernd Stukenborg will then explore space andrology, revealing how reproduction is studied within the unique environment of space. He will discuss the importance of understanding the potential impacts of gravitational changes and radiation on male reproductive function. The potential harmful effects of space travel on spermatogonial stem cells, germ cell maturation, and sperm quality and quantity in humans, ultimately remain uncharted territory.

This comprehensive scientific workshop promises to make significant contributions to the understanding of the delicate balance of factors governing successful implantation, as well as the transformative potential of emerging technologies to study new frontiers. The workshop will also feature a selected poster session, providing a platform for researchers to showcase their latest research findings and engage in valuable discussions with fellow participants.

We extend a warm invitation to all interested professionals and ESHRE members, and trust that the content and experience will be enjoyable and enriching.

www.eshre.eu/Education/Calendar-Campus-events/Methodologies

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