In mice, exposure of the uterus to seminal plasma at mating initiates an inflammatory response within the endometrium, which is characterized by production of cytokines that recruit and activate leukocytes. We hypothesized that this seminal plasma-induced inflammatory response would extend to the ovary, increasing leukocyte abundance within corpora lutea and potentially enhancing progesterone synthesis. Female mice mated to males with their seminal vesicles surgically removed exhibited fewer macrophages within corpora lutea on the day after mating, compared with females mated to vasectomized or normal, intact males. The mean number of F4/80-positive macrophages and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II-positive activated macrophages was approximately 2-fold fewer in the absence of seminal vesicle fluid. The effects of seminal plasma on macrophage abundance subsided by Day 4 and were not accompanied by a change in serum progesterone levels during luteinization (Days 1, 2, or 4 after mating) or luteolysis (Days 6 or 9). In vitro secretion of progesterone from corpora lutea cultured with or without LH also did not differ between treatment groups. There was no effect of seminal plasma deficiency in males on the number of ovulated ova or corpora lutea in females. These results imply that seminal plasma exposure of the female reproductive tract at mating augments the macrophage population of newly formed corpora lutea, although these additional macrophages seem not to play a role in steroidogenesis and may instead be involved in tissue remodeling within corpora lutea.
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