Endometritis in the mare begins as a normal physiological inflammatory response to breeding that involves both a mechanical and immunological response pathway activated to rid the uterus of semen and bacteria. With successful resolution of this inflammation, the mare‘s uterus will provide a hospitable environment for the development of the semi-allogenic conceptus. If the mare fails to resolve this inflammatory response within 48 h of breeding, she will become susceptible to persistent breeding-induced endometritis (PBIE) which will have detrimental effects on her fertility. This condition can then predispose the mare to bacterial or fungal endometritis leading to further degeneration of the endometrium. Optimisation of the mare’s fertility requires a fine balance between allowing the natural immune response of the endometrium to its exposure to allogenic semen to run its course, and yet preventing its progression to PBIE or the involvement of infectious agents. This review discusses the challenges presented by PBIE, latent infections, biofilms, fungal infections and the need to utilise diagnostic methods available and implement targeted treatments to optimise fertility in the mare.
Expansion of the equine conceptus can be divided into blastocoel and yolk sac phases. The endodermal layer transforming the blastocoel into the yolk sac is completed around day 8 of pregnancy. From that time, the size of the spherical conceptus increases tremendously due mainly to the accumulation of fluid rather than cell multiplication. In this study, we have investigated the abundance and localisation of Na+/K+-ATPases and aquaporins (AQP) in the equine conceptus on days 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 by multiplex reverse transcriptase PCR, Western blot and immunohistochemistry. During conceptus expansion, the ectoderm of the yolk sac exhibited basolateral abundance of α1ATPase, apical localisation of AQP5, and membrane and cytoplasmic expression of AQP3. With increasing conceptus size its cells showed an extensive enlargement of the apical membrane surface by microvilli. From day 14 onwards, the yolk sac endoderm forms arc-like structures with attaching sites to the ectodermal layer and shows intensive staining for α1ATPase, AQP5 and AQP3 in the membrane as well as in the cytoplasm. In the yolk sac ectoderm, the arrangement of these proteins is comparable with the collecting ducts of kidney with AQP2 being replaced by the closely related AQP5. The detection of phosphorylation sites for protein kinase A suggests a similar AQP5 traffic and regulation as known for AQP2 in the collecting ducts of the kidney. The arrangement of these proteins in equine embryos indicates at least partially the mechanism of conceptus expansion.