The use of transcervical artificial insemination in sheep is limited because of the anatomy of the cervix, which restricts the passage of an inseminating pipette into the uterine lumen. There is a degree of natural cervical relaxation at estrus that enables greater penetration with an inseminating pipette. We hypothesize that this relaxation may be regulated by cervical prostaglandin synthesis and remodeling of the cervical extracellular matrix. The present study investigated the changes in prostaglandin endoperoxide synthase 2 (PTGS2) mRNA expression and the proportion of smooth muscle and collagen in the sheep cervix during the estrous cycle. Sheep cervices were collected at four stages of the estrous cycle: prior to the LH surge, during the LH surge, after the LH surge, and during the luteal phase. The expression of cervical PTGS2 mRNA was determined by in situ hybridization, and the proportion of smooth muscle and collagen in the cervix was investigated by Masson trichrome staining. The expression of PTGS2 mRNA in the sheep cervix was greatest prior to the LH surge, when estradiol concentrations were also greatest. The increase in PTGS2 mRNA expression was associated with an increase in the proportion of collagen in the sheep cervix. We propose that prior to the LH surge, estradiol may stimulate PTGS2 mRNA expression and hence prostaglandin E2 synthesis in the sheep cervix to regulate cervical relaxation, most likely through the rearrangement of collagen bundles within the cervical extracellular matrix.
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Vol. 76 • No. 1