Successful mammalian pregnancies depend on concerted actions among implantation, decidualization and placentation. In order to gain a better understanding of these physiological processes, clarification of the endocrine (ovarian estrogen and progesterone) and biochemical (novel regulators including nitric oxide synthase/nitric oxide, decidual prolactin-related protein, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide, the matrix metalloproteinase gelatinase enzymes, cytokines and other growth factors, and signal transduction pathways) dynamics at the uterine/placental interface becomes a necessity. These mechanisms are capable of contributing homeostatically to a vibrant embryonic/fetal environment leading to a viable pregnancy. Moreover, in light of the increased ubiquitous exposure to environmental toxic stressors which impact metabolic functions, studies that address the problems associated with the uterine/placental and fetal responses to toxic reproductive agents, i.e., mutagenic/carcinogenic butadiene, could further clarify mechanisms that could lead to successful pregnancies. Consequently, this review deals with ovarian and uterine/placental biochemical and physiological mechanisms that are associated with growth, cytodifferentiation, remodeling and regression/apoptosis. These are post-implantation processes that lead to decidualization and placentation during pregnancy in higher mammals. In addition, profiles of some of these biochemical and physiological components in response to butadiene exposure will be examined.
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