The cells of the uterus; endometrial stromal cells make an essential transformation to decidual cells (secretory cell type) which marks the beginning of placental development. These cells are mechano-responsive, and this cellular transformation can be induced by physical force in vivo.

Our fundamental understanding of the cellular dynamics and mechanotransduction in the initiation of and during decidualisation remains unexplored. This project aims to examine the combined effect of endocrine and mechanical cues that influences the transformation of these uterine cells using a unique polymer as a matrix to develop a 3D cell culture model. Investigating the role of the mechanical cues in the cell dynamics that govern this transformation will further our understanding of cellular processes involved in the initial stages of placental development and provide insight into pregnancy outcomes.

Key words:  endometrium, hormones, mechanotransduction, hydrogel, extracellular matrix, cell differentiation.

Supervisor: Dr Romanthi Jessica Madawala