Altered gene expression in embryos and endometrium collected on day 8 of induced aluteal cycles in mares.


Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


Aluteal cycles were induced in the mare to evaluate the effects of progesterone deprivation on the gene expression of embryos and endometrium collected eight days after ovulation. We hypothesized that the transcript expression would be altered during induced aluteal (AL) cycles (low progesterone <1 ng/mL) when compared with control cycles during diestrus (high progesterone; > 4 ng/mL) for 1) the embryonic expression of progesterone-mediated transcripts and those related to normal embryo growth and development and 2) the endometrial expression of progesterone-mediated transcripts and those related to prostaglandin synthesis and normal pregnancy establishment. Seven cyclic mares with a median age of 6.5 years (range 3-16) were utilized in a crossover design. Mares in estrus were artificially inseminated to a fertile stallion and randomly assigned to control or AL groups. Mares received either saline solution (control mares) or PGF2α (AL mares), twice daily on days 0, 1, and 2 and once daily on days 3 and 4. Serial blood samples were collected daily from day 0 (ovulation) until the day of embryo collection and endometrial biopsy on day 8. Mares were monitored until they returned to estrus, and artificially inseminated. Mares were switched to the opposite treatment group only after a successful embryo collection occurred during the previous cycle and only cycles that produced embryos were used for analyses. The study design resulted in paired samples from each mare for analyses. No significant rise in progesterone was observed in the AL group with mean concentrations of plasma progesterone remaining <1.0 ng/mL from ovulation until embryo collection on day 8. This is in sharp contrast to the control (luteal) cycle where a post-ovulatory rise in plasma progesterone was observed. Real-time RT-PCR was utilized to evaluate the expression of ESR1, PGR, CYP19A1, P19, SLC35A1, OCD, APOB, AQP3, NEU2 transcripts in the embryos and PTGS2, P19, ESR1, HK2, sPLA2, PGR, CTGF, IFNE, FGF9, SLC36A2 expression in the endometrium. Four transcripts showed increased expressed in embryos developed during AL cycles ESR1, P19, APOB and PGR (p < 0.05). Four transcripts showed increased expressed in endometrium developed during AL cycles sPLA2, PGR, ESR1, FGF9 (p < 0.05) and four transcripts showed decreased expression P19, CTGF, IFNE, HK2 (p < 0.05). Additionally, staining differences were present in endometrial staining for both ERα and PR receptor during AL cycles compared with control cycles. Embryos and endometrium developed in a progesterone-deprived environment during induced aluteal cycles demonstrated altered transcript expression. These results indicate that adequate progesterone levels may be a key mediator of the appropriate embryo-maternal environment during early preimplantation embryo development.



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