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Oestrogen and Progesterone Receptors and COX‐2 Expression in Endometrial Biopsy Samples During Maternal Recognition of Pregnancy in Llamas (Lama glama)

Bianchi, CP, Meikle, A, Benavente, MA, Álvarez, MA, Trasorras, VL, Miragaya, MH, Rodríguez, E, Aba, MA
Reproduction in domestic animals 2015 v.50 no.6 pp. 980-988
biopsy, conceptus, endometrium, epithelium, estrogens, females, immunohistochemistry, llamas, luteolysis, males, ovulation, pregnancy, progesterone, progesterone receptors, secretion
Endometrial expression of oestrogen receptor‐α (ERα), progesterone receptor (PR) and cyclooxigenase‐2 (COX‐2) was evaluated in non‐pregnant and pregnant llamas during the period when luteolysis/maternal recognition of pregnancy is expected to occur. Females (n = 28) were divided into two groups: non‐pregnant llamas were induced to ovulate with a Buserelin injection, and endometrial biopsies were obtained on day 8 (n = 5) or 12 (n = 5) post‐induction of ovulation. Animals of the pregnant group (n = 18) were mated with a fertile male. Pregnancy was confirmed by the visualization of the embryo collected by transcervical flushing in 5 of 9 animals on day 8 post‐mating and by progesterone profile on day 12 post‐mating in 4 of 9 animals, when endometrial biopsies were obtained. An immunohistochemical technique was used to evaluate receptors population and COX‐2 expression. Pregnant llamas showed a higher percentage of positive cells and stronger intensity for ERα than for non‐pregnant llamas in stroma on day 8 and in the luminal epithelium on day 12 post‐induction of ovulation, while a deep decrease in endometrial PR population was reported in pregnant llamas on that day in luminal and glandular epithelia and stroma. In the luminal epithelium, COX‐2 expression was lower in pregnant than in non‐pregnant animals. Briefly, the increase of ERα in pregnant llamas gives further support to the hypothesis that oestrogens are involved in the mechanism of maternal recognition of pregnancy. Endometrial PR decrease in pregnant llamas might be a necessary event to allow the expression of proteins involved in conceptus attachment, a mechanism widely accepted in other species. Moreover, embryo seems to attenuate maternal PGF₂α secretion during early pregnancy by decreasing the endometrial expression of COX‐2 in the luminal epithelium of pregnant llamas.