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Regulation of the Corpus luteum-function in bitches:
Functional lifespan of the corpus luteum (CL) in non-pregnant dogs exceeds that of pregnant animals and may last for more than 80 days. Prolactin and LH act luteotropic, however, luteolytic mechanisms are poorly understood. This excellent recently published article from the University of Gießen gives new insights in this theme, especially the role of the T lymphocytes.

Other than in life stock there is no uterine luteolysine and it was postulated that local paracrine/autocrine mechanisms might play a major role.

In following this hypothesis the present investigations have clearly demonstrated that up-regulation of prostaglandin synthesis in the CL as indicated by the expression of cyclo-oxygenase II occurs with its formation and not regression, pointing towards a luteotropic rather than luteolytic action.

Throughout dioestrus luteal and other cells of the CL express the oestrogen (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR). While ER expression was not cycle-related, PR concentrations were high in the early and late-luteal phase and a regulatory role of both steroids on CL-function is assumed.

As in other species also in the dog the immune system seems to participate in the mechanisms regulating CL-function as an increased presence of lymphocytes within the CL could be detected at the beginning [CD4- CD8-, major histocompatibility complex (MHC)II-antigen expressing cells] and during the latter half of dioestrus (CD8- and MHCII-antigen expressing cells).

Thus, leucocyte-derived cytokines may be important and the expression of the mRNA for interleukin (IL)8, IL10, IL12, tumour necrosis factor (TNF) and transforming growth factor (TGF) 1 was observed throughout dioestrus. Electron microscopy confirmed the slow process of luteolysis; first distinct signs of degeneration were seen on day 60, accompanied by some apoptotic events.

From these data it is concluded that luteal regression as monitored by the gradual decrease of systemic progesterone concentrations in the dog is not an actively regulated but rather a permissive process. Immune-mediated events may play a key role. Changes in the vascular supply, as indicated by the expression of endoglin, seem to be of lower importance.

Source: Hoffmann, B, Büsges, F, Engel, E, Kowalewski, MP & Papa, P (2004): Regulation of Corpus Luteum-function in the Bitch. In: Reproduction in Domestic Animals 39 (4), 232-240.




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