Background: The role for endometrial secretion of cytokines during the establishment of pregnancy in a number of mammals is well established. The current study determined endometrial expression of caspase 1 (CASP1) and interleukin-18 (IL18) during the estrous cycle and early pregnancy, and following early estrogen administration, which induces conceptus loss during early development in pigs.
Methods: Gilts were hysterectomized on either D 0, 5, 10, 12, 15 and 18 of the estrous cycle, or D 10, 12, 15 or 18 of pregnancy. The abundance of endometrial CASP1 mRNA was unaffected by day of the estrous cycle, however there was a 6 and 10-fold increase in expression on D 15 and 18 of pregnancy. Endometrial expression of IL18 mRNA increased 5-fold between D 10 to 18 in cyclic and pregnant gilts. Total recoverable IL18 in uterine flushings was greater in pregnant compared to cyclic gilts on D 15 and 18.In the second experiment, mated gilts were treated with either corn oil (CO) or estrogen (E) on D 9 and 10 and hysterectomized on either D 10, 12, 13, 15 or 17 of pregnancy. The current study localizes the presence of CASP1 to the epithelial layer of the endometrium for the first time. Further, a day x treatment interaction was detected for endometrial CASP1 mRNA and protein abundance as E stimulated an earlier increase on D 13 compared to CO gilts. Although IL18 mRNA expression remained unaltered from the E treatment, protein abundance was significantly attenuated on D 15 and 18 in response to E treatment.
Conclusions: Endometrial expression of CASP1 and IL18 is associated with establishment of pregnancy in pigs. Alteration of CASP1 and IL18 following premature exposure of the uterus to estrogen during early pregnancy may contribute to conceptus loss between Days 15 to 18 of pregnancy.