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Keywords:

  • Interferon;
  • pregnancy;
  • trophectoderm

Trophectoderm of ruminant conceptuses (embryo and associated membranes) secrete tau interferons (IFNτ) as the pregnancy recognition signal. Secretion of IFNτ on gestational days 12–13 for sheep and gestation days 14–17 for cows and goats is critical for pregnancy recognition. IFNτ acts on uterine epithelium to suppress estrogen receptor and oxytocin receptor gene expression, which prevents uterine release of luteolytic pulses of prostaglandin F (PGF). Expression of the progesterone receptor (PR) gene in uterine endometrium is not affected by oIFNτ. Maintenance of progesterone secretion by the corpus luteum (CL) ensures establishment of pregnancy. Pig conceptuses secrete both IFNα and IFNγ between days 15–21 of gestation, but their role(s) in early pregnancy is unknown. Estrogen secreted by pig trophoblast between gestational days 11–13 and 15–25 increases endometrial receptors for prolactin and causes exocrine secretion of PGF into the uterine lumen to prevent luteolysis. Shared cell-signaling mechanisms by IFNs and lactogenic hormones through Janus kinases (JAK) 1 and 2 may provide a common pathway to abrogate luteolytic mechanisms to ensure establishment of pregnancy. The role(s) of IFNs produced by human and rodent placentae is not known.