• Angiogenesis;
  • chemokines;
  • cytokines;
  • decoy receptors;
  • dendritic cells;
  • fetal loss;
  • lymphocytes;
  • pig;
  • pregnancy

Significant spontaneous fetal loss of unknown cause occurs in North American commercial swine. About 30% of conceptuses, thought to be genetically normal, are lost during the peri-attachment period. An additional 20% are lost at mid-pregnancy. Littermate endometrial and trophoblast biopsies were studied by quantitative real-time PCR for gene expression, and immunohistochemistry for protein expression at gestation day (gd)15–23 and 50. RNA analyses were also conducted on endometrial lymphocytes and arterial endothelial cells removed from biopsies by laser capture microdissection. Genes were selected for study from human literature and cloned as required. As in humans, angiogenic, cytokine, chemokine and chemokine decoy receptor gene expression occurs at the porcine maternal–fetal interface. In each tissue studied, distinct patterns of expression are found between early and mid-pregnancy, as well as between viable and arresting conceptus attachment sites. These changes involve both endometrial lymphocytes and dendritic cells. Restriction in endometrial angiogenesis, reduction in expression of the chemokine decoy receptor D6, and reduction in dendritic cell numbers contribute to fetal arrest. In peri-attachment loss, interferon-γ is more abundantly transcribed than tumor necrosis factor-α, but this ratio is reversed during midgestation failure. Further characterization of spontaneous fetal loss in pigs will identify targets for modification by hog producers and may provide a model for identification of antecedents to fetal loss in humans.