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  • Author: D J Mathew x
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Daniel J Mathew, Matthew C Lucy and Rodney D Geisert

Abstract

Early pregnancy in mammals requires complex and highly orchestrated cellular and molecular interactions between specialized cells within the endometrium and the conceptus. Proinflammatory cytokines are small signaling proteins released by leukocytes that augment innate and adaptive immune responses. They are also released by the mammalian trophectoderm as the conceptus apposes the uterine surface for implantation. On approximately day 12 of development in pigs, the conceptus undergoes a rapid morphological transformation referred to as elongation while simultaneously releasing estrogens and a novel conceptus form of interleukin-1 beta (IL1β). Following elongation, pig conceptuses express interferon gamma (IFNγ) and, in lesser amounts, interferon delta (IFNδ). Significant IFN signaling takes place within the endometrium between day 14 and 18 of pregnancy as the conceptus intimately associates with the uterine epithelium. Based on studies carried out in pigs and other mammals, the combined spacio-temporal activities of conceptus estrogens, IL1β, and IFN set in motion a series of coordinated events that promote establishment of pregnancy. This is achieved through enhancement of conceptus development, uterine receptivity, maternal–fetal hemotropic exchange, and endometrial leukocyte function. These events require activation of specific signaling pathways within the uterine luminal epithelium, glandular epithelium, and stroma. Here, we review proinflammatory cytokine expression by pig conceptuses and the hypothesized actions of these molecules during establishment of pregnancy.