Leukaemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF)

Definition - What does Leukaemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF) mean?

Leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is a protein that promotes growth and maturation of cells and has a broad range of functions in different systems in the body including the reproductive system. The inner lining of the uterus and the fallopian tubes produce LIF and it plays the major role in implantation of the fertilized egg and the early stages of development of the embryo.

For the fertilized egg to properly attach to the uterine lining and develop into a fetus, there has to be adequate communication between the uterus and the fertilized egg. LIF is one of the mediators that contribute to this crosstalk. Inadequate secretion of LIF can lead to implantation failure which causes infertility.

FertilitySmarts explains Leukaemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF)

Leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) was first tested on white blood cells and was shown to limit the growth and multiplication of cancer cells that cause leukemia, which gave LIF its name. It has been now found that LIF is important in most of the major organ systems in the body. In addition to the reproductive function, LIF promotes the growth and maturation of cells in nerves, blood vessels, bone, and fat cells.

The production of LIF in the endometrium of the uterus and fallopian tubes varies cyclically corresponding to the menstrual cycle. The levels peak around the 21st day of the cycle, the middle of the secretory phase when implantation usually occurs. There are receptors that recognize and respond to this protein in the uterus as well as the fertilized egg.

Artificially produced LIF can be beneficial in the treatment of women with infertility due to abnormalities of LIF production and release.

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