• apoptosis;
  • bovine;
  • corpus luteum


The corpus luteum (CL) offers the opportunity to study not only proliferative, but also regressive processes. During luteolysis of the CL a sudden death of luteal and endothelial cells seems to be involved (apoptosis). The aim of this study was to examen the mRNA expression of factors known to be involved in apoptotic processes: monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), factors of the extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways, caspase3, -6, -7 and interferone gamma (IFNγ). Luteolysis was induced by injection of 500 µg Cloprostenol during mid-luteal phase. The CLs were collected at 0.5, 2, 4, 12, 24, 48, and 64 hr after PGF2α-injection. Control CLs (Days 8–12) were collected at the slaugtherhouse. Real-time RT-PCR determined the mRNA expressions. Western blot analysis of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP-1) and IFNγ as well as protein measurement of tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) by EIA were performed. The mRNA levels of MCP-1, IFNγ and most factors of the extrinsic pathway were significantly increased between 0.5 and 2 hr. The factors of the intrinsic pathway were mostly later up-regulated at 24–48 hr after PGF2α. Caspase6 and 3 revealed a significant increase from 2 and 12 hr, respectively, whereas caspase7 was significantly up-regulated after 24 hr. The protein level of TNFα increased significantly to a maximum level at 12 hr. The Western blot revealed an increasing level of an 89 kDa fragment of PARP-1 from 12 to 24 hr, which is specific for apoptosis. We assume that the extrinsic pathway is more important for the onset of luteolysis, because of its earlier and higher increase during induced luteolysis. Mol. Reprod. Dev. 76: 220–230, 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.