Investigations on the Endometrial Response to Intrauterine Administration of N-Acetylcysteine in Oestrous Mares


Author's address (for correspondence): Dr Christine Aurich, Centre for Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer, University of Veterinary Sciences, 1210 Vienna, Austria. E-mail:


In mares, mating-induced persistent endometritis contributes to low fertility. The condition is in part related to delayed clearance of mucus accumulated within the uterine lumen. The objective of this study was to investigate the endometrial response of healthy mares to intrauterine (i.u.) treatment with N-acetylcysteine (NAC). Oestrous mares (n = 12) were randomly assigned to a treatment (TM) or control (C) group and received an i.u. infusion of 5% NAC and saline (total volume 140 ml), respectively. Endometrial biopsies were collected in five of the mares 24 h after treatment, in the remaining seven mares 72 h after treatment. Endometrial biopsies were evaluated for integrity of the luminal epithelium, number of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN), staining for cyclooxygenase 2 (COX2), staining with Kiel 67 antigen (Ki-67), lectins and periodic acid-Schiff (PAS). The integrity of endometrial epithelial cells was not affected by treatment (no statistical differences between groups or times). At 24 h after treatment, the mean number of PMN in endometrial biopsies from NAC- and C-mares did not differ, but at 72 h after treatment, number of PMN was significantly higher (p < 0.05) in C (3.9 ± 0.6 PMN/field) compared with NAC-treated mares (2.3 ± 0.2 PMN/field). At 72 h after treatment, the intensity of staining for COX2 was significantly higher after saline than after NAC treatment (p < 0.05). In the epithelium, no differences in staining for the proliferation marker Ki-67 were seen with respect to time and treatment. Score for the lectin wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) was slightly higher in NAC-treated mares than in C-mares 72 h after treatment (p < 0.05). Score for PAS staining of mucus in deep uterine glands differed significantly between groups at 24 h after treatment (p < 0.05). The present study demonstrates that NAC does not adversely affect the endometrial function. Moreover, an anti-inflammatory effect on the equine endometrium was observed.