Despite expanding global experience with advanced reproductive technologies, the majority of IVF attempts do not result in a successful pregnancy, foremost as a result of implantation failure. The process of embryo implantation, a remarkably dynamic and precisely controlled molecular and cellular event, appears inefficient in humans and is poorly understood. However, insights gained from clinical implantation failure, early pregnancy loss, and emerging techologies that enable molecular interrogation of endometrial-embryo interactions are unravelling this major limiting step in human reproduction. We review current molecular concepts thought to underlie implantation failure, consider the contribution of embryonic and endometrial factors, and discuss the clinical value of putative markers of impaired endometrial receptivity. Finally we highlight the nature of the dialogue between the maternal endometrium and the implanting embryo and discuss the concept of natural embryo selection. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Molecular Genetics of Human Reproductive Failure.
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