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My research: A PhD explains

En ph.d. fortæller: Laura Catalini

The project investigated which factors influence the uterine immune environment affecting embryo implantation.

What is the title of your thesis?

Uterine embryo implantation: the endometrium, seminal plasma and the immune system.

From which institute and/or research unit did you make your PhD thesis?

Research Unit of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Department of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark. Centre of Andrology and Fertility Clinic, Odense University Hospital.

Who was your main supervisor?

Jens Fedder. 


What question did you wish to answer with your thesis?

We wanted to investigate which factors influence the uterine immune environment affecting embryo implantation.


What did you find out?

We found that vaginal exposure to seminal plasma, the semen liquid component, can improve endometrial response to embryo implantation. Seminal plasma stimulates endometrial immune response, angiogenesis, embryo development, and oocyte maturation.

We also found that the use of donor or partner sperm during medically assisted reproduction gives comparable results. 

On the other hand, chronic and autoimmune diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes mellitus type 2 might have a negative impact on female fertility, decreasing the chances of embryo implantation.


How did you do it (your methods)?

The thesis was based on five projects: 
  1. A literature review describing menstruating animals and their use in research to study female reproduction.  
  2. A nationwide register-based cohort study evaluating the use of partner or donor sperm in medically assisted reproduction treatments. 
  3. A randomized controlled trial evaluating the importance of seminal plasma in endometrial stimulation and embryo implantation 
  4. A literature review investigating women with chronic diseases and their pregnancy chances after medically assisted reproduction treatments  
  5. A pilot case-control study evaluating the immune profile of women with or without autoimmune diseases.

How can your research be used (in the clinic/society etc.)?

This thesis shows that the spiny mouse is a good animal model to study female reproduction.  

It gives new and reassuring results regarding the use of donor sperm in medically assisted reproduction. It also suggests that seminal plasma might be beneficial to improve embryo implantation chances, and more clinical studies should be conducted investigating its beneficial effect on live births. 

Lastly, it shows that information on chronic and autoimmune diseases and female infertility is scarce, and more studies are necessary.


Meet the researcher

Laura Catalini is a part of the research Unit of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the Department of Clinical Research at SDU and the Centre of Andrology and Fertility Clinic at Odense University Hospital.


Do you want to know more?

Read more about the research from the Department of Clinical Research.

Read more

Hvornår forsvarer/forsvarede du din afhandling?

On the 1st of December 2023.

Kommende ph.d.-forsvar

Redaktionen afsluttet: 21.11.2023