Endometrial leukocytes may play important roles during pregnancy. Because chemokines are regulators of immune cell activity and trafficking, this study determined if mRNAs for monocyte chemotactic proteins (MCP) were present in the ovine uterus and regulated by progesterone (P) and/or recombinant ovine interferon tau (roIFN-τ). Uteri of normal cycling and pregnant ewes (experiment 1) and uteri of ovariectomized ewes receiving intrauterine infusions of IFN-τ and/or i.m. injections of P (experiment 2) were used to detect MCP-1 and MCP-2 mRNA. In experiment 1, slot-blot hybridization analysis of endometrial total RNA revealed that MCP-1 and MCP-2 mRNA levels did not change during the estrous cycle but increased between Days 13 and 19 of pregnancy. Using in situ hybridization, MCP-1 and MCP-2 mRNA were localized to immune cells in the subepithelial compact stroma. Histomorphological studies and in situ hybridization for major basic protein (MBP) indicated that MCP-positive immune cells were eosinophils. In experiment 2, treatment with P and roIFN-τ increased (P < 0.05) the number of MCP-1- and MCP-2-expressing eosinophils in the endometrium compared to ewes treated with P alone. Injection of the P receptor antagonist (ZK 137,316) inhibited effects of P and/or roIFN-τ to recruit eosinophils expressing MCP-1 and MCP-2 mRNAs. Endometrial production of MCPs by eosinophils during early pregnancy may play a role(s) in central implantation and/or placentation in ewes that is crucial for successful establishment of pregnancy.
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