Secreted phosphoprotein one (SPP1, osteopontin) may regulate conceptus implantation and placentation. We investigated effects of progesterone (P4) and the conceptus on expression and localization of SPP1 in the ovine uterus. Steady-state levels of SPP1 mRNA in the endometrium of unilaterally pregnant ewes did not differ significantly between nongravid and gravid horns within their respective days of pregnancy; however, levels did increase as pregnancy progressed. SPP1 mRNA was detectable in the glandular epithelium (GE) of both nongravid and gravid horns via in situ hybridization. SPP1 protein was localized to the apical surface of the luminal epithelium of both nongravid and gravid uterine horns. Gravid horns exhibited extensive stromal SPP1 on Days 40 through 120, whereas SPP1 was markedly lower in the stroma of nongravid uterine horns through Day 80 of pregnancy. By Day 120, stromal expression of SPP1 between nongravid and gravid horns was similar. Long-term P4 treatment of ovariectomized ewes induced SPP1 in the uterine stroma and GE. A bioactive 45-kDa SPP1 fragment was purified from uterine secretions and promoted ovine trophectoderm cell attachment in vitro. Interestingly, increased stromal cell expression of SPP1 was positively associated with vascularization as assessed by von Willebrand factor staining. Finally, ovine uterine artery endothelial cells produced SPP1 during outgrowth into three-dimensional collagen matrices in an in vitro model system that recapitulates angiogenesis. Collectively, P4 induces and the conceptus further stimulates SPP1 in uterine GE and stroma, where SPP1 likely influences histotrophic and hematotrophic support of conceptus development..
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Vol. 79 • No. 5