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Adam J Ziecik, Emilia Przygrodzka, Beenu M Jalali, and Monika M Kaczmarek

The new corpora lutea (CLs) in pigs are formed from the preovulatory follicles after the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge. However, total autonomy and independence of CLs from LH up to Day 12 of cycle has recently been questioned. Transformation of estrous cycle CL to CL of pregnancy initiated by embryonic signals requires not only the cessation of prostaglandin F2 (PGF) supply to the luteal tissue but also needs the CL to overcome luteolytic acquisition and/or changing its sensitivity to PGF during Days 12–14 of pregnancy. The luteolytic cascade is prevented by inhibition of lymphocyte infiltration and leucocyte recruitment, limitation of cell apoptosis, upregulation of pregnancy-associated genes and an enhanced antiluteolytic role of PGE2. Our ‘two-signal switch hypothesis’ highlights the importance of post PGF and PGE2 receptor signaling pathways activation in CLs during luteolysis and rescue. The ‘luteolytic switch’ involves increased expression of many regression mediators and activation of the post PTGFR signaling pathway. The ‘rescue switch’ initiated by embryonic signals – estradiol 17β and PGE2 – induces post PTGER2/4 pathway, turning the ‘luteolytic switch’ off and triggering activity of genes responsible for CL maintenance. In mid and late pregnancy, CLs are maintained by LH and the synergistic action of metabolic hormones. This paper provides an outline of recent views on CL regression, rescue and maintenance during pregnancy in pigs that conflict with previous paradigms and highlights new findings regarding the actions of prostaglandins, role of microRNAs (miRNA) and immune system and signaling pathways governing the life cycle of porcine CL.