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Michelle A A Wynn, Barry A Ball, Erin Legacki, Alan Conley, Shavahn Loux, John May, Alejandro Esteller-Vico, Scott Stanley, Kirsten Scoggin, Edward Squires, and Mats Troedsson

In the latter half of gestation in the mare, progesterone concentrations decline to near undetectable levels while other 5α-reduced pregnanes are elevated. Of these, 5α-dihydroprogesterone and allopregnanolone have been reported to have important roles in either pregnancy maintenance or fetal quiescence. During this time, the placenta is necessary for pregnane metabolism, with the enzyme 5α-reductase being required for the conversion of progesterone to 5α-dihydroprogesterone. The objectives of this study were to assess the effects of a 5α-reductase inhibitor, dutasteride on pregnane metabolism (pregnenolone, progesterone, 5α-dihydroprogesterone, 20α-hydroxy-5α-pregnan-3-one, 5α-pregnane-3β,20α-diol and allopregnanolone), to determine circulating dutasteride concentrations and to assess effects of dutasteride treatment on gestational parameters. Pregnant mares (n = 5) received dutasteride (0.01 mg/kg/day, IM) and control mares (n = 4) received vehicle alone from 300 to 320 days of gestation or until parturition. Concentrations of dutasteride, pregnenolone, progesterone, 5α-dihydroprogesterone, 20α-hydroxy-5α-pregnan-3-one, 5α-pregnane-3β,20α-diol, and allopregnanolone were evaluated via liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Samples were analyzed as both days post treatment and as days prepartum. No significant treatment effects were detected in pregnenolone, 5α-dihydroprogesterone, 20α-hydroxy-5α-pregnan-3-one, 5α-pregnane-3β,20α-diol or allopregnanolone for either analysis; however, progesterone concentrations were increased (P < 0.05) sixfold in dutasteride-treated mares compared to control mares. Dutasteride concentrations increased in the treated mares, with a significant correlation (P < 0.05) between dutasteride concentrations and pregnenolone or progesterone concentrations. Gestational length and neonatal outcomes were not significantly altered in dutasteride-treated mares. Although 5α-reduced metabolites were unchanged, these data suggest an accumulation of precursor progesterone with inhibition of 5α-reductase, indicating the ability of dutasteride to alter progesterone metabolism.

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Hossam El-Sheikh Ali, Kirsten E Scoggin, Rebecca Ruby, Alan Loynachan, Yatta Boakari, Claudia Fernandes, Pouya Dini, Carleigh Elizabeth Fedorka, Shavahn C Loux, Alejandro Esteller-Vico, and Barry A Ball

Cervical remodeling is a critical component in both term and preterm labor in eutherian mammals. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying cervical remodeling remain poorly understood in the mare. The current study compared the transcriptome of the equine cervix (cervical mucosa (CM) and stroma (CS)) during placentitis (placentitis group, n  = 5) and normal prepartum mares (prepartum group, n  = 3) to normal pregnant mares (control group, n  = 4). Transcriptome analysis identified differentially expressed genes (DEGs) during placentitis (5310 in CM and 907 in CS) and during the normal prepartum period (189 in CM and 78 in CS). Our study revealed that cervical remodeling during placentitis was dominated by inflammatory signaling as reflected by the overrepresented toll-like receptor signaling, interleukin signaling, T cell activation, and B cell activation pathways. These pathways were accompanied by upregulation of several proteases, including matrix metalloproteinases (MMP1, MMP2, and MMP9), cathepsins (CTSB, CTSC, and CTSD) and a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin type 1 motifs (ADAMTS1, ADAMTS4, and ADAMTS5), which are crucial for degradation of cervical collagens during remodeling. Cervical remodeling during placentitis was also associated with upregulation of water channel-related transcripts (AQP9 and RLN), angiogenesis-related transcripts (NOS3, ENG1, THBS1, and RAC2), and aggrecan (ACAN), a hydrophilic glucosaminoglycan, with subsequent cervical hydration. The normal prepartum cervix was associated with upregulation of ADAMTS1, ADAMTS4, NOS3 and THBS1, which might reflect an early stage of cervical remodeling taking place in preparation for labor. In conclusion, our findings revealed the possible key regulators and mechanisms underlying equine cervical remodeling during placentitis and the normal prepartum period.