Interferon tau (IFNT) from the ovine conceptus has paracrine actions on the endometrium that alter release of prostaglandin F2alpha (PGF) and protect the corpus luteum (CL). Antiviral activity in uterine vein blood and expression of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) in CL is greater in pregnant than in nonpregnant ewes. We hypothesized that IFNT contributes to antiviral activity in uterine vein blood and has endocrine actions on the CL. Preadsorption of IFNT with antiserum against recombinant ovine (ro) IFNT revealed that antiviral activity in uterine vein blood from pregnant ewes was mediated by IFNT. Endocrine actions of IFNT were examined after infusing either roIFNT or bovine serum albumin (BSA; 200 μg/24 h; mini-osmotic pump) into the uterine vein of nonpregnant ewes from Day 10 to Day 11 postestrus. The abundance of ISG15 mRNA and protein was greater in CL (P < 0.05) from ewes receiving 24-h roIFNT infusion compared to that from ewes receiving 24-h BSA infusion. Injection of PGF at 12 h following insertion of mini-osmotic pumps resulted in a decline in serum progesterone concentrations 6 through 12 h later in BSA-infused ewes; however, in roIFNT-infused ewes, a similar decline in progesterone concentrations at 6 h was followed by recovery to control values at 12 h. Ewes then received infusions (200 μg/day) of either roIFNT or BSA for 7 days beginning on Day 10 of the estrous cycle. All BSA-infused ewes returned to estrus by Day 19, whereas 80% of roIFNT-infused ewes maintained luteal-phase concentrations of progesterone through Day 32. In conclusion, IFNT is released from the uterus into the uterine vein and acts through an endocrine mechanism to induce ISGs in the CL and delay luteolysis.
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Vol. 82 • No. 4