Establishment of pregnancy in ruminants requires conceptus elongation and production of interferon tau (IFNT), the pregnancy recognition signal that maintains the corpus luteum and progesterone (P4) secretion. The enzymes hydroxysteroid (11-beta) dehydrogenase 1 (HSD11B1) and HSD11B2 catalyze the interconversion of inactive cortisone and active cortisol, which is a biologically active glucorticoid and ligand for the receptor subfamily 3, group C, member 1 (glucocorticoid receptor) (NR3C1). The activity of HSD11B1 is stimulated by P4, prostaglandins, and cortisol. These studies determined the effects of pregnancy, P4, and IFNT on HSD11B1, HSD11B2, prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 (prostaglandin G/H synthase and cyclooxygenase) (PTGS2), and nuclear NR3C1 in the ovine uterus. Endometrial HSD11B1 mRNA levels were more abundant between Days 12 and 16 of pregnancy than the estrous cycle, and HSD11B1 and PTGS2 expression in the endometrial luminal and superficial glandular epithelia was coincident with conceptus elongation. HSD11B1 mRNA was very low in the conceptus, whereas HSD11B2 mRNA was abundant in the conceptus but not in the uterus. Treatment of ewes with P4 induced, and intrauterine infusions of IFNT modestly stimulated, HSD11B1 expression in the endometrial luminal and superficial glandular epithelia. In all of the studies, HSD11B1 and PTGS2 expression was coincident in the endometrial epithelia, and NR3C1 was present in all endometrial cell types. Collectively, these results support hypotheses that endometrial epithelial HSD11B1 expression is induced by P4 as well as stimulated by IFNT and PTGS2-derived prostaglandins and that HSD11B1-regenerated cortisol acts via NR3C1 to regulate ovine endometrial functions during early pregnancy.
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Vol. 82 • No. 1