The role of invasive trophoblast in implantation and placentation of primates

Anthony Michael Carter, Allen C Enders, Robert Pijnenborg

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We here review the evolution of invasive placentation in primates towards the deep penetration of the endometrium and its arteries in hominoids. The strepsirrhine primates (lemurs and lorises) have non-invasive, epitheliochorial placentation, although this is thought to be derived from a more invasive type. In haplorhine primates, there is differentiation of trophoblast at the blastocyst stage into syncytial and cellular trophoblast. Implantation involves syncytiotrophoblast that first removes the uterine epithelium then consolidates at the basal lamina before continuing into the stroma. In later stages of pregnancy, especially in Old World monkeys and apes, cytotrophoblast plays a greater role in the invasive process. Columns of trophoblast cells advance to the base of the implantation site where they spread out to form a cytotrophoblastic shell. In addition, cytotrophoblasts advance into the lumen of the spiral arteries. They are responsible for remodelling these vessels to form wide, low-resistance conduits. In human and great apes, there is additional invasion of the endometrium and its vessels by trophoblasts originating from the base of the anchoring villi. Deep trophoblast invasion that extends remodelling of the spiral arteries to segments in the inner myometrium evolved in the common ancestor of gorilla, chimp and human.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1663
Publication statusPublished - 5. Mar 2015


  • Arterial remodelling
  • Catarrhine primates
  • Cytrotrophoblast
  • Platyrrhine primates
  • Strepsirhine primates
  • Syncytiotrophoblast
  • Species Specificity
  • Humans
  • Embryo Implantation/physiology
  • Trophoblasts/physiology
  • Biological Evolution
  • Pregnancy
  • Placentation/physiology
  • Animals
  • Primates/physiology
  • Female


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