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  • Author: Rosanna Ramhorst x
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Valeria Roca, Mario Calafat, Luciana Larocca, Rosanna Ramhorst, Mariana Farina, Ana Maria Franchi and Claudia Pérez Leirós

Among several factors known to modulate embryo implantation and survival, uterine quiescence and neovascularization, maternal immunotolerance through the Th1/Th2 cytokine balance towards a Th2 profile, local regulatory T-cell (Treg) activation, and high levels of progesterone were assigned a prominent role. Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) is a neuroimmunopeptide that has anti-inflammatory effects, promotes Th2 cytokines and CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ Treg activation, and stimulates exocrine secretion, smooth muscle relaxation, and vasodilatation favoring uterus quiescence. The goal of the present work was to explore the participation of VIP in the implantation sites of normal and pregnant prediabetic nonobese diabetic (NOD) females, a mouse strain that spontaneously develops an autoimmune exocrinopathy similar to Sjögren's syndrome. Our results indicate a reduction in litter size from the third parturition onwards in the NOD female lifespan with increased resorption rates. Progesterone systemic levels were significantly decreased in pregnant NOD mice compared with BALB/c mice, although the allogeneic response to progesterone by spleen cells was not impaired. VIP receptors, Vipr1 and Vipr2 (Vpac1 and Vpac2), were expressed at the implantation sites and VIP induced leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and Treg marker expression in both strains; however, a reduced Vip expression was found in NOD implantation sites. We conclude that the reduced birth rate at 16-week-old NOD mice with a Th1 systemic cytokine profile involves resorption processes with a lower expression of VIP at the sites of implantation, which acts as a local inducer of pro-implantatory LIF and Treg activation.

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Elizabeth Soczewski, Esteban Grasso, Lucila Gallino, Vanesa Hauk, Laura Fernández, Soledad Gori, Daniel Paparini, Claudia Perez Leirós and Rosanna Ramhorst

Decidualization denotes the reprogramming of endometrial stromal cells that includes the secretion of different mediators like cytokines, chemokines, and the selective recruitment of immune cells. This physiological process involves changes in the secretome of the endometrial stromal cells leading to the production of immunomodulatory factors. The increased amount of protein secretion is associated with a physiological endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the resulting unfolded protein response (UPR), allowing the expansion of ER and the machinery to assist the protein folding. Notably, the signaling pathways involved in the ER stress and the UPR are interconnected with the onset of a sterile inflammatory response, as well as with angiogenesis. Both of these processes have a key role in decidualization and placentation, therefore, alterations in them could lead to pregnancy complications. In this review, we will discuss how the induction of ER stress and the UPR processes that accompanies the decidualization are associated with embryo implantation and whether they might condition pregnancy outcome. The ER stress activates/triggers sensing proteins which, among others, induces kinase/RNAse-TXNIP expression, activating the NLRP3 inflammasome. This multiprotein system allows caspase-1 activation, which catalyzes the cleavage of the inactive IL-1β proform toward the mature secretory form, with pro-implantatory effects. However, the sterile inflammatory response should be later controlled in favor of a tolerogenic microenvironment to sustain pregnancy. In accordance, alterations of the ER stress and UPR processes can be reflected in recurrent implantation failures (RIF), recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL), or complications associated with deficient placentation, such as preeclampsia (PE).