Evidence that absence of endometrial gland secretions in uterine gland knockout ewes compromises conceptus survival and elongation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Endometrial glands are necessary for conceptus implantation and growth. In the ovine uterine gland knockout (UGKO) model, blastocysts hatch normally but fail to survive or elongate. This peri-implantation defect in UGKO ewes may be due to the absence of endometrial glands or, alternatively, to the lack of certain epithelial adhesion molecules or the inability of the endometrium to respond to signals from the conceptus. Two studies were performed to examine these hypotheses. In study one, normal (n = 8) and UGKO (n = 12) ewes were mated at oestrus (day 0) with intact rams and their uteri were flushed 14 days after oestrus. Normal ewes (n = 4) were also flushed on 14 days after oestrus. Uterine flushes from bred normal ewes contained filamentous conceptuses (n = 7 of 8), whereas those from UGKO ewes contained no conceptus (n = 5 of 12), a growth-retarded, tubular conceptus (n = 6 of 12), or a fragmented, filamentous conceptus (n = 1 of 12). In all groups, expression of mucin 1 and integrin alpha(v), alpha(5), beta(3) and beta(5) was localized at the apical surface of the endometrial luminal epithelium with no detectable differences between normal and UGKO ewes. Uterine flushes from pregnant ewes, but not cyclic or UGKO ewes, contained abundant immunoreactive interferon tau and the cell adhesion proteins, osteopontin and glycosylation-dependent cell adhesion molecule one. In study two, UGKO ewes were fitted with uterine catheters 5 days after oestrus, infused with recombinant ovine interferon tau or control proteins from 11 to 15 days after oestrus, and underwent hysterectomy 16 days after oestrus. Expression of several interferon tau-stimulated genes (ISG17, STAT1, STAT2 and IRF-1) was increased in the endometrium from interferon tau-infused UGKO ewes. These results support the hypothesis that the defects in conceptus elongation and survival in UGKO ewes are due to the absence of endometrial glands and their secretions rather than to alterations in expression of anti-adhesive or adhesive molecules on the endometrial luminal epithelium or to the responsiveness of the endometrium to the conceptus pregnancy recognition signal.

published proceedings

  • Reproduction

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Gray, C. A., Burghardt, R. C., Johnson, G. A., Bazer, F. W., & Spencer, T. E.

citation count

  • 269

complete list of authors

  • Gray, CA||Burghardt, RC||Johnson, GA||Bazer, FW||Spencer, TE

publication date

  • August 2002