The influence of extracellular environmental factors on preimplantation rat blastocysts was tested by determining the number of embryos which escaped from their zonae pellucidae, followed by attachment and outgrowth of trophoblast giant cells, after 72 h in culture Uterine luminal ocmponents from individual females, or hormones, were included in Dulbecco's medium which contained 4 mg/ml bovine serum albumin. In about 20% of cases, uterine fluids were embryotonic. However, uterine fluids from day-5 pregnant females, the day of implantation in the rat, were more potent in these tests than uterine fluids obtained from ovariectomized females treated with progesterone alone. The potency of a mixture of the 2 fluids was also high. Uterine fluids obtained at 14 h after an injection of oestradiol and progesterone to the ovariectomized females, were also effective in these tests. Rat serum and foetal calf serum were effective too, but steroids or insulin alone in the medium had no detectable influence on embryos. Serum or uterine luminal proteins appear to be essential for maintaining the viability of the blastocysts and for inducing the responses observed here. In the uterine fluids, some proteins released into the lumen after treatment of females with oestradiol and progesterone appear to be the biologically active components. Differences in the responses of blastocysts in vitro are compared with those in vivo.

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