The peptides of the tachykinin family participate in the regulation of reproductive function acting at both central and peripheral levels. Our previous data showed that treatment of rats with a tachykinin NK3R antagonist caused a reduction of litter size. In the present study, we analyzed the expression of tachykinins and tachykinin receptors in the rat uterus during early pregnancy. Uterine samples were obtained from early pregnant rats (Days 1–9 of pregnancy) and from nonpregnant rats during the proestrus stage of the ovarian cycle, and real-time quantitative RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, and Western blot studies were used to investigate the pattern of expression of tachykinins and tachykinin receptors. We found that all tachykinins and tachykinin receptors were locally synthesized in the uterus of early pregnant rats. The expression of substance P, neurokinin B, and the tachykinin receptors NK1R and NK3R mRNAs and proteins underwent major changes during the days around implantation and they were widely distributed in implantation sites, being particularly abundant in decidual cells. These findings support the involvement of the tachykinin system in the series of uterine events that occur around embryo implantation in the rat.
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Vol. 93 • No. 2