A critical period in establishing pregnancy occurs after the onset of implantation but before placental development. Evidence strongly suggests that abnormalities occurring during this period can result in pregnancy termination or in pre-eclampsia; the latter may lead to small-for-gestational-weight offspring that are likely to be unhealthy. Clearly, events occurring in the endometrium during the implantation process are crucial for proper fetal development and for optimal offspring health. In several mammalian species bi-directional communication between the conceptus and endometrium during implantation is required for successful pregnancy. Although different implantation and placentation modes occur in different mammalian species, common aspects of this bi-directional signaling may exist. The molecular signals from the trophoblast cells of the conceptus, which direct endometrial changes during implantation progression, are well known in some nonrodent species. Currently, we know little about such signaling in rodents during implantation progression, when the endometrium undergoes decidualization. This review focuses on data that support the hypothesis that paracrine signals from the rodent conceptus influence decidualization. Where possible, these findings are compared and contrasted with information currently known in other species that exhibit different implantation modes.
(c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.