Free tail skin grafts or suspensions of viable epidermal cells have been placed in the atraumatized uterus of isologous rat hosts and allowed to "implant" of their own accord to study the possible uniqueness of this site for other than nature's transplants, i.e. conceptuses, and its response to unnatural grafts.
Despite the presence of an intact endometrial epithelium, free skin grafts heal-in rapidly, provided that a state of estrogen excess is established at the time of transplantation. In the absence of estrogen most of the grafts failed to implant. Once established, the grafts survive indefinitely without further estrogen. However, if at any stage a state of continual estrus is established, skin epidermis migrates centrifugally from the graft perimeter invasively replacing the native uterine epithelium.
The results of an analysis of the modus operandi of this estrogen-facilitated epidermal migration in utero sustain the view that the hormone acts upon the uterine stroma rather than upon the epidermal cells.
When grafts of lingual mucosa or vaginal "skin" were placed in the uteri of rats maintained in chronic estrus, migration of epidermis took place even more vigorously than from tail skin. These epithelia conserved their distinctive histologic specificities indefinitely when growing as heterotypic recombinants on the alien mesenchymal stroma of the uterus.
Monodisperse suspensions of epidermal cells appear to "implant" and establish small epidermal plaques in the uterus only at sites predestined to accept conceptuses.
That the endocrinologic parameters for the establishment of skin grafts in the uterus are similar to those for blastocysts is suggested by the finding that both kinds of graft can become established in the same uterine horn in the absence of exogenous hormones.