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Hormonal Action Mechanisms

Embryo-uterine interactions during the maternal recognition of pregnancy and implantation as well as factors involved in the control of early embryonic development are the main scientific interests of the Department. The majority of the embryonic mortality in swine occurs between day 10 and 30 of gestation. It is not surprising considering the crucial events that take place during this period, e.g. embryo migration, rapid differentiation and expansion of conceptuses, the process of maternal recognition of pregnancy, trophoblast attachment to the uterine wall and placentation. Reasons for the early pregnancy failure may be of conceptus (weak conceptus signaling, genetic factors) or maternal (impaired uterine receptivity) origin. Thus, orchestrated synchronization between embryo development and endometrial receptivity are essential for successful pregnancy establishment. Understanding of embryo-maternal cross-talk and determination of factors associated with conceptus development might be helpful in elaboration of new methods of animal selection for reproduction and improve embryonic survival. Search for and use of genetic markers of reproductive efficiency would be of great importance for increase in pig production, but also for transgenesis, cloning and other biotechniques.

Current research involves:

  • determination of the role of prostaglandin synthesis enzymes and prostaglandin receptors during maternal recognition of pregnancy and implantation,
  • evaluation and selection of uterine “receptivity markers”,
  • determination of the role of endothelial cells and their secretions in the control of estrous cycle and pregnancy,
  • evaluation of in vitro and in vivo effects of ovarian steroids on secretory properties of the uterus and oviduct,
  • examination of the role of plasma proteins on immune and cellular response of the uterus,
  • determination of the effect of estrus synchronization on the embryo quality, corpus luteum function and uterine development,
  • evaluation of the effect of superovulation on VEGF-receptors system in the oviduct after fertilization.

Research methods and in vitro models:

  • immortalization and characterization of endometrial epithelial and stromal cell lines as well as endothelial cells collected from umbilical cord,
  • establishment of in vitro model for examination of embryo-endometrial interactions,
  • selective gene silencing as a method for studies of intracellular and molecular mechanisms of physiological regulations.