Physiology and endocrinology symposium: Role of immune cells in the corpus luteum

S. S. Walusimbi, J. L. Pate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The immune system is essential for optimal function of the reproductive system. The corpus luteum (CL) is an endocrine organ that secretes progesterone, which is responsible for regulating the length of the estrous cycle, and for the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy in mammals. This paper reviews literature that addresses 2 areas; i) how immune cells are recruited to the CL, and ii) how immune cells communicate with luteal cells to affect the formation, development, and regression of the CL. Immune cells, primarily recruited to the ovulatory follicle from lymphoid organs after the LH surge, facilitate ovulation and populate the developing CL. During the luteal phase, changes in the population of macrophages, eosinophils, neutrophils, and T lymphocytes occur at critical functional stages of the CL. In addition to their role in facilitating ovulation, immune cells may have an important role in luteal function. Evidence shows that cytokines secreted by immune cells modulate both luteotropic and luteolytic processes. However, the decision to pursue either function may depend on the environment provided by luteal cells. It is suggested that understanding the role immune cells play could lead to identification of new strategies to improve fertility in dairy cattle and other species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1650-1659
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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