Heparanase improves mouse embryo implantation

Ariel Revel*, Aharon Helman, Moriah Koler, Asher Shushan, Orit Goldshmidt, Eyal Zcharia, Helena Aingorn, Israel Vlodavsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective: To improve mouse embryonic implantation by recombinant heparanase supplementation. Heparanase, an endoglycosidase-degrading heparan sulfate proteoglycan, may have a role in embryonic implantation because of its enzymatic, angiogenic, and adhesive properties. Increasing endometrial receptivity could improve one of the most difficult pathologies in human fertility. Design: Comparison between mouse blastocysts obtained after 24-hour incubation of morulae with or without heparanase. Setting: Experimental laboratory in a medical center. Animal(s): Mice. Intervention(s): Morulae were flushed from CB6F1 female mice and incubated for 24 hours at 37°C in M16 medium supplemented with 0.1 mg/mL heparanase (n = 203), with albumin (n = 60), or with medium alone (n = 258). Main Outcome Measure(s): Blastocysts were evaluated by heparanase immunostaining (n = 10), activity assay (n = 283), and transfer to foster mice uterine horns (n = 228). The number of implantation sites was compared. Result(s): Immunostaining demonstrated that heparanase is constitutively expressed in mouse morulae and blastocyts. Conclusion(s): Heparanase supplementation resulted in increased staining and enzymatic activity in blastocyts. Implantation rates for the heparanase, M16 medium, and albumin groups, were 36.9%, 17.8%, and 20%, respectively (P<.01). Heparanase was found to be constitutively expressed by blastocyst-stage embryos. Moreover, the amount of heparanase was markedly increased by incubation of morulae with recombinant heparanase, evaluated by immunostaining and enzymatic activity. Heparanase supplementation resulted in approximately a twofold increase in embryo implantation rate in vivo. Taken together, these data suggest that heparanase is actively involved in embryo implantation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)580-586
Number of pages7
JournalFertility and Sterility
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by grants from the HWZOA absorption program; the Joint Research Fund of the Hebrew University and Hadassah (A.R.); The Israel Science Foundation (grant 532/02); and the Center for the Study of Emerging Diseases (CSED; I.V.).


  • Embryo
  • Heparan sulfate
  • Heparanase
  • Implantation
  • Mouse


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