The cervical mucus plug (CMP) is believed to play an integral role in the maintenance of pregnancy in the mare, primarily by inhibiting microbial entry. Unfortunately, very little is known about its composition or origin. To determine the proteomic composition of the CMP, we collected CMPs from mares (n = 4) at 9 months of gestation, and proteins were subsequently analyzed by nano-LC–MS/MS. Results were searched against EquCab2.0, and proteomic pathways were predicted by Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. Histologic sections of the CMP were stained with H&E and PAS. To identify the origin of highly abundant proteins in the CMP, we performed qPCR on endometrial and cervical mucosal mRNA from mares in estrus, diestrus as well as mares at 4 and 10 m gestation on transcripts for lactotransferrin, uterine serpin 14, uteroglobin, uteroferrin, deleted in malignant brain tumors 1 and mucins 4, 5b and 6. Overall, we demonstrated that the CMP is composed of a complex milieu of proteins during late gestation, many of which play an important role in immune function. Proteins traditionally considered to be endometrial proteins were found to be produced by the cervical mucosa suggesting that the primary source of the CMP is the cervical mucosa itself. In summary, composition of the equine CMP is specifically regulated not only during pregnancy but also throughout the estrous cycle. The structural and compositional changes serve to provide both a structural barrier as well as a physiological barrier during pregnancy to prevent infection of the fetus and fetal membranes.
S C Loux, K E Scoggin, M H T Troedsson, E L Squires and B A Ball
E M Woodward, M Christoffersen, J Campos, A Betancourt, D Horohov, K E Scoggin, E L Squires and M H T Troedsson
Transient endometritis after breeding is necessary for clearance of bacteria and spermatozoa; however, in a subpopulation of mares, the inflammation fails to resolve in a timely fashion. The objective of this study was to describe the uterine inflammatory response in mares susceptible or resistant to persistent breeding-induced endometritis (PBIE) during the first 24 h after induction of uterine inflammation. Twelve mares were classified as susceptible (n=6) or resistant (n=6) to PBIE. Mares were inseminated over five estrous cycles and endometrial biopsies were collected at one time point per cycle before (0) and 2, 6, 12, and 24 h after insemination. qPCR analysis for IL1B, IL6, IL8, IFNG, TNF (TNFA), IL10, and IL1RN was performed, and endometrial inflammatory cells were counted for each sample. Relative quantification values reported fold changes in mRNA expression from 0 h values. A general pattern of expression post insemination was observed in both groups of mares. Cytokine mRNA increased at 2 h, peaked between 2 and 12 h, and then decreased. Differences were detected between groups of mares 6 h after challenge; resistant mares had higher mRNA expression of IL6, IL1RN, and IL10 than susceptible mares. Susceptible mares had an increased number of polymorphonuclear neutrophils in the endometrium 2 and 12 h after breeding when compared with resistant mares. These findings describe an inherent difference in the initial immune response to insemination and may help explain the transient nature of inflammation in resistant mares, whereas susceptible mares develop a persistent inflammation.
S C Loux, A J Conley, K E Scoggin, H El-Sheikh Ali, P Dini and B A Ball
Steroid production varies widely among species, with these differences becoming more pronounced during pregnancy. As a result, each species has its own distinct pattern of steroids, steroidogenic enzymes, receptors, and transporters to support its individual physiological requirements. Although the circulating steroid profile is well characterized during equine pregnancy, there is much yet to be explored regarding the factors that support steroidogenesis and steroid signaling. To obtain a holistic view of steroid-related transcripts, we sequenced chorioallantois (45 days, 4 months, 6 months, 10 months, 11 months, and post-partum) and endometrium (4 months, 6 months, 10 months, 11 months, and diestrus) throughout gestation, then looked in-depth at transcripts related to steroid synthesis, conjugation, transportation, and signaling. Key findings include: 1) differential expression of HSD17B isoforms among tissues (HSD17B1 high in the chorioallantois, while HSD17B2 is the dominant form in the endometrium) 2) a novel isoform with homology to SULT1A1 is the predominant sulfotransferase transcript in the chorioallantois; and 3) nuclear estrogen (ESR1, ESR2) and progesterone (PGR) expression is minimal to nonexistant in the chorioallantois and pregnant endometrium. Additionally, several hypotheses have been formed, including the possibility that the 45-day chorioallantois is able to synthesize steroids de novo from acetate and that horses utilize glucuronidation to clear estrogens from the endometrium during estrous, but not during pregnancy. In summary, these findings represent an in-depth look at equine steroid-related transcripts through gestation, providing novel hypotheses and future directions for equine endocrine research.
H El-Sheikh Ali, E L Legacki, K E Scoggin, S C Loux, P Dini, A Esteller-Vico, A J Conley, S D Stanley and B A Ball
Equine placentitis is associated with alterations in maternal peripheral steroid concentrations, which could negatively affect pregnancy outcome. This study aimed to elucidate the molecular mechanisms related to steroidogenesis and steroid-receptor signaling in the equine placenta during acute placentitis. Chorioallantois (CA) and endometrial (EN) samples were collected from mares with experimentally induced placentitis (n = 4) and un-inoculated gestationally age-matched mares (control group; n = 4). The mRNA expression of genes coding for steroidogenic enzymes (3βHSD, CYP11A1, CYP17A1, CYP19A1, SRD5A1, and AKR1C23) was evaluated using qRT-PCR. The concentration of these enzyme-dependent steroids (P5, P4, 5αDHP, 3αDHP, 20αDHP, 3β-20αDHP, 17OH-P, DHEA, A4, and estrone) was assessed using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry in both maternal circulation and placental tissue. Both SRD5A1 and AKR1C23, which encode for the key progesterone metabolizing enzymes, were downregulated (P < 0.05) in CA from the placentitis group compared to controls, and this downregulation was associated with a decline in tissue concentrations of 5αDHP (P < 0.05), 3αDHP (P < 0.05), and 3β-20αDHP (P = 0.052). In the EN, AKR1C23 was also downregulated in the placentitis group compared to controls, and this downregulation was associated with a decline in EN concentrations of 3αDHP (P < 0.01) and 20αDHP (P < 0.05). Moreover, CA expression of CYP19A1 tended to be lower in the placentitis group, and this reduction was associated with lower (P = 0.057) concentrations of estrone in CA. Moreover, ESR1 (steroid receptors) gene expression was downregulated (P = 0.057) in CA from placentitis mares. In conclusion, acute equine placentitis is associated with a local withdrawal of progestins in the placenta and tended to be accompanied with estrogen withdrawals in CA.