Broad gap junction blocker carbenoxolone disrupts uterine preparation for embryo implantation in mice

Honglu Diao, Shuo Xiao, Elizabeth W. Howerth, Fei Zhao, Rong Li, Mary B. Ard, Xiaoqin Ye

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26 Scopus citations


Gap junctions have an important role in cell-to-cell communication, a process obviously required for embryo implantation. Uterine luminal epithelium (LE) is the first contact for an implanting embryo and is critical for the establishment of uterine receptivity. Microarray analysis of the LE from periimplantation mouse uterus showed low-level expression of 19 gap junction proteins in preimplantation LE and upregulation of gap junction protein, beta 2 (GJB2, connexin 26, Cx26) in postimplantation LE. Time course study using in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence revealed upregulation of GJB2 in the LE surrounding the implantation site before decidualization. Similar dynamic expression of GJB2 was observed in the LE of artificially decidualized mice but not pseudopregnant mice. To determine the potential function of uterine gap junctions in embryo implantation, carbenoxolone (CBX), a broad gap junction blocker, was injected i.p. (100 mg/kg) or via local uterine fat pad (10 mg/kg) into pregnant mice on Gestation Day 3 at 1800 h, a few hours before embryo attachment to the LE. These CBX treatments disrupted embryo implantation, suggesting local effects of CBX in the uterus. However, i.p. injection of glycyrrhizic acid (100 mg/kg), which shares similar structure and multiple properties with CBX but is ineffective in blocking gap junctions, did not affect embryo implantation. Carbenoxolone also inhibited oil-induced artificial decidualization, concomitant with suppressed molecular changes and ultrastructural transformations associated with uterine preparation for embryo implantation, underscoring the adverse effect of CBX on uterine preparation for embryo implantation. These data demonstrate that uterine gap junctions are important for embryo implantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


  • Carbenoxolone
  • Embryo implantation
  • Gap junctions
  • Uterine luminal epithelium


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