Attachment of the placenta to the uterus in pigs involves extracellular interaction between the expanding trophoblastic membrane and the thick glycocalyx present on the uterine epithelial microvilli. Formation of complexes between members of inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor family may function in the maintenance of the extracellular matrix. This study investigated the change in the inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor heavy chains (ITIH1, ITIH2, ITIH3 and ITIH4) during the oestrous cycle and early pregnancy in pigs. Gene expression of ITIH1, ITIH2, ITIH3 and ITIH4 was detected in the endometrium of cyclic and pregnant gilts; however, gene expression of ITIH was not altered throughout the oestrous cycle or early pregnancy. Western blot analysis with an ITIH antiserum identified the possible linkage forms of ITIH with the serine protease inhibitor, bikunin. Pregnancy altered the release of the various inter-alpha-inhibitor forms from the endometrium during the period of trophoblastic attachment. The results from this study indicate that the inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor family plays an important role in maintenance of the uterine surface glycocalyx during placental attachment in pigs.
If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.