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Beate C Braun, Astrid Vargas, and Katarina Jewgenow

Relaxin acts as a pregnancy-specific signal in feline species, but specific information about protein structure and binding is essential for the improvement of pregnancy diagnosis in endangered feline species, like the Iberian lynx. To generate a felid-specific relaxin antibody, the DNA and protein sequences of lynx and cat were determined and peptides were chosen for antibody generation. In addition, relaxin and relaxin receptor (RXFP1) mRNA expressions were measured in uteri and ovaries of pregnant domestic cats and lynx placentae. Using real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry, it was established that feline placenta is the main source of relaxin during pregnancy. In other tested tissues, relaxin mRNA expression was weak. The RXFP1 mRNA expression was found mainly in cat uterine tissue and feline placentae. It was assumed that these tissues were main targets for relaxin. In the ovary, relaxin immunostaining was associated with blood vessels, signifying its role in vascularization.

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Lina Zschockelt, Olga Amelkina, Marta J Siemieniuch, Mariusz P Kowalewski, Martin Dehnhard, Katarina Jewgenow, and Beate C Braun

Felids show different reproductive strategies related to the luteal phase. Domestic cats exhibit a seasonal polyoestrus and ovulation is followed by formation of corpora lutea (CL). Pregnant and non-pregnant cycles are reflected by diverging plasma progesterone (P4) profiles. Eurasian and Iberian lynxes show a seasonal monooestrus, in which physiologically persistent CL (perCL) support constantly elevated plasma P4 levels. Prostaglandins (PGs) represent key regulators of reproduction, and we aimed to characterise PG synthesis in feline CL to identify their contribution to the luteal lifespan. We assessed mRNA and protein expression of PG synthases (PTGS2/COX2, PTGES, PGFS/AKR1C3) and PG receptors (PTGER2, PTGER4, PTGFR), and intra-luteal levels of PGE2 and PGF. Therefore, CL of pregnant (pre-implantation, post-implantation, regression stages) and non-pregnant (formation, development/maintenance, early regression, late regression stages) domestic cats, and prooestrous Eurasian (perCL, pre-mating) and metoestrous Iberian (perCL, freshCL, post-mating) lynxes were investigated. Expression of PTGS2/COX2, PTGES and PTGER4 was independent of the luteal stage in the investigated species. High levels of luteotrophic PGE2 in perCL might be associated with persistence of luteal function in lynxes. Signals for PGFS/AKR1C3 expression were weak in mid and late luteal stages of cats but were absent in lynxes, concomitant with low PGF levels in these species. Thus, regulation of CL regression by luteal PGF seems negligible. In contrast, expression of PTGFR was evident in nearly all investigated CL of cat and lynxes, implying that luteal regression, e.g. at the end of pregnancy, is triggered by extra-luteal PGF.