Trophoblast cells play multiple critical roles in pregnancy, notably modulating blastocyst attachment to the endometrium as well as invading into and actively remodeling the endometrium to facilitate biotransport needs of the growing embryo. Despite the importance of trophoblast invasion for processes essential at early stages of pregnancy, much remains unknown regarding the balance of signaling molecules that may influence trophoblast invasion into the endometrium. The goal of this study was to use three-dimensional trophoblast spheroid motility assays to examine the effect of cues from the maternal-fetal interface on trophoblast motility. We report use of a methacrylamide-functionalized gelatin hydrogel to support quantitative analysis of trophoblast outgrowth area and cell viability. We show that this multidimensional model of trophoblast motility can resolve quantifiable differences in outgrowth area and viability in the presence of a known invasion promoter, epidermal growth factor, and a known invasion inhibitor, transforming growth factor β1. We then investigate the sensitivity of trophoblast motility to cortisol, a hormone associated with exogenous stressors. Together, this approach provides a toolset to investigate the coordinated action of physiological and pathophysiological processes on early stages of trophoblast invasion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1064-1073
Number of pages10
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A
Issue number15-16
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021


  • cortisol
  • hydrogel
  • maternal-fetal interface
  • motility
  • three dimensional
  • trophoblast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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