Uterine function is primarily controlled by the combined actions of oestrogen and progesterone working through their cognate nuclear receptors. The mechanism of establishment of pregnancy in the mare is of interest because it involves prolonged pre-attachment and conceptus migration phases, and both invasive and non-invasive placental cell types, and as such has been an important comparative model. This study characterised regulation of oestrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) receptors in the endometrium of the mare during the oestrous cycle and early pregnancy. Endometrial tissues collected during the oestrous cycle and early pregnancy were analysed for steady-state levels of ER and PR mRNA and protein. Steady-state levels of ER and PR mRNA were highest on days 0, 17 and 20 in cyclic mares and lowest on days 11 and 14. A day-by-status interaction was detected, indicating that day 17 and day 20 pregnant mares exhibited low levels of ER and PR compared with the corresponding days of the oestrous cycle. In situ hybridisation analyses showed receptor mRNA localisation primarily in the luminal epithelium (LE), glandular epithelium (GE) and stroma around oestrus. During dioestrus and early pregnancy, receptors were not detected in the LE, and were lower in the stroma and deeper GE. Changes in hybridisation intensity in these cell types were consistent with changes in mRNA levels detected by slot-blot hybridisation. ER and PR proteins were detected in the nuclei of LE, GE and stromal cells. Consistent with results from in situ hybridisation, levels of ER and PR immunoreactivity were higher around oestrus, declined to low levels during dioestrus and remained low during early pregnancy. Results described here for temporal and spatial changes in steroid receptor gene expression in mares show the greatest similarities with those described for cattle and sheep.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Reproductive Medicine
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Cell Biology