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Constantine A Simintiras, José M Sánchez, Michael McDonald and Pat Lonergan

Successful bovine pregnancy establishment hinges on conceptus elongation, a key reproductive phenomenon coinciding with the period during which most pregnancies fail. Elongation is yet to be recapitulated in vitro, whereas in vivo it is directly driven by uterine secretions and indirectly influenced by prior circulating progesterone levels. To better understand the microenvironment evolved to facilitate this fundamental developmental event, uterine fluid was recovered on Days 12–14 of the oestrous cycle – the window of conceptus elongation initiation – from cycling heifers supplemented, or not, with progesterone. Subsequent lipidomic profiling of uterine luminal fluid by advanced high-throughput metabolomics revealed the consistent presence of 75 metabolites, of which 47% were intricately linked to membrane biogenesis, and with seven displaying a day by progesterone interaction (P ≤ 0.05). Four metabolic pathways were correspondingly enriched according to day and P4 – i.e. comprised metabolites whose concentrations differed between groups (normal vs high P4) at different times (Days 12 vs 13 vs 14). These were inositol, phospholipid, glycerolipid and primary bile acid metabolism. Moreover, P4 elevated total uterine luminal fluid lipid content on Day 14 (P < 0.0001) relative to all other comparisons. The data combined suggest that maternal lipid supply during the elongation-initiation window is primarily geared towards conceptus membrane biogenesis. In summary, progesterone supplementation alters the lipidomic profile of bovine uterine fluid during the period of conceptus elongation initiation.

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Sandra Bagés-Arnal, José M Sánchez, Beatriz Fernandez-Fuertes, Michael McDonald, Susanta K Behura, Thomas E Spencer, Trudee Fair and Pat Lonergan

In cattle, embryo transfer into the uterine horn contralateral to the corpus luteum results in a higher incidence of pregnancy loss compared to transfer into the ipsilateral horn. We have previously reported temporal changes in the endometrial transcriptome during the estrous cycle which differ between uterine horns. The objective of this study was to compare the transcriptomic response of endometrium from the ipsilateral and contralateral horns to an elongating conceptus. Cross-bred beef heifers (n = 16) were synchronized and either used to generate day 14 conceptuses following the transfer of in vitro-produced blastocysts or to obtain day 14 endometrial explants. Conceptuses were recovered on day 14 by post-mortem uterine flushing, placed individually on top of explants collected from the ipsilateral (IPSI-D14) or the contralateral (CONTRA-D14) uterine horn of cyclic heifers, and co-cultured for 6 h. The response to a conceptus was markedly different between uterine horns, with 61 and 239 differentially expressed genes (DEGs; false discovery rate <0.05) in the ipsilateral and contralateral horns, respectively, compared to their controls. Direct comparison between IPSI-D1 and CONTRA-D14 revealed 32 DEGs, including CXCL11, CXCL10, IFIT2, RSAD2 and SAMD9. Gene Ontology analysis of these 32 genes revealed ten enriched biological processes, mainly related to immune response and response to an external stimulus. These data indicate that the endometrial response to the presence of a conceptus varies between uterine horns in the same uterus and may contribute to the higher incidence of pregnancy loss following embryo transfer to the contralateral horn.