Expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor in the endometrial epithelium of the cow is up-regulated during early pregnancy and in response to intrauterine infusions of interferon-tau.
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On the basis of results obtained in vitro, we previously proposed a model in which signals from the conceptus, namely interferon-tau (IFN-tau) and prostaglandin E2, increase the expression of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 or granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in immune and nonimmune cells of the bovine endometrium. Two experiments were conducted to verify the validity of this hypothesis in vivo. In experiment 1, the in vivo expression of COX-2 and GM-CSF during early pregnancy was monitored. Uteri from heifers were collected at different days (d) of the estrous cycle and pregnancy (P). In experiment 2, the effects of intrauterine infusions of IFN-tau on the expression of COX-2 and GM-CSF were analyzed. Immunohistochemistry was performed on uterine sections, and image analysis was used to evaluate the staining intensity in the conceptus, the luminal epithelium (LE), and the subepithelial stroma. In experiment 1, staining for COX-2 was maximal between d18P and d24P, both in the LE and in the conceptus, whereas staining for GM-CSF reached a plateau between d18P and d30P in the LE. In experiment 2, in response to IFN-tau, COX-2 was up-regulated in the LE of the ipsilateral horn, whereas GM-CSF was enhanced in both uterine horns. The current report supports the view that the conceptus, through its secretion of IFN-tau, stimulates maternal epithelial expression of COX-2 and GM-CSF during the peri-attachment period in the cow.