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Conceptus-mediated endometrial vascular changes during early pregnancy in mares: an anatomic, histomorphometric, and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor system immunolocalization and gene expression study

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  • Biology
  • Medicine


This work examined how the conceptus modulates endometrial tissue remodeling and vascular development prior to implantation in mares. A macroscopic uterine examination was completed at day 21 of pregnancy. In situ morphology revealed that the endometrium involved in encroachment is restricted to the dorsal endometrium immediately overlying the yolk sac. The amount of stromal area occupied by blood vessels and the number of endometrial glands were increased during early pregnancy. Endometrial histomorphometry as well as the endometrial mRNA abundance and immunolocalization of VEGF, VEGFR1, VEGFR2, and Ki-67 was completed at days 14 and 21 of pregnancy, at day 10 of the estrous cycle, and during estrus. No obvious differences in VEGF and VEGFR1 protein localization were detected between pregnant and cycling mares but differential staining pattern for VEGFR2 and Ki-67 was observed. VEGFR2 localized to luminal and glandular epithelium of pregnant mares, while luminal epithelium was negative in cycling mares. Ki-67 staining was weak during the luteal phase but exhibited prominent luminal epithelium staining during estrus. In pregnant mares, all endometrial layers were Ki-67 positive. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed a greater abundance of VEGF mRNA during pregnancy. VEGFR2 transcript abundance was greatest in pregnant mares on day 21. This study supports the concept that the conceptus plays an active role in directing vasculogenesis within the uterus and thereby establishing hemotrophic nutrition that supports pregnancy after implantation. Reproduction (2011) 142 593-603

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