Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Milk-fat globule epidermal growth factor 8 (MFGE8) is expressed at the embryo– and fetal–maternal interface in equine pregnancy

S. Barua A , A. Macedo A , D. S. Kolb A , K. E. Wynne-Edwards A and C. Klein A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Veterinary and Clinical Diagnostic Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, 3280 Hospital Dr NW, Calgary AB T2N 4Z6, Canada.

B Corresponding author. Email: claudia.klein@ucalgary.ca

Reproduction, Fertility and Development - https://doi.org/10.1071/RD17094
Submitted: 10 March 2017  Accepted: 14 August 2017   Published online: 30 August 2017

Abstract

Milk-fat globule epidermal growth factor (EGF) 8 protein (MFGE8), also known as lactadherin, promotes cell adhesion in an Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD)-dependent modus via integrins. In the present study, the expression of MFGE8 was examined in equine endometrium during oestrus and at Days 12 and 16 after ovulation in pregnant and non-pregnant mares and in mares during the 5th month of gestation. Results demonstrated that MFGE8 is expressed at the embryo– and fetal–maternal interface in equine pregnancy. In non-pregnant endometrium its expression was upregulated by oestrogen, a finding that was confirmed using endometrial explant culture. MFGE8 was expressed at similar levels by conceptuses collected 13 and 14 days after ovulation and by allantochorion sampled during the 5th month of gestation. Pericytes of endometrial blood vessels displayed strong MFGE8 expression upon in situ hybridisation. During the 5th month of gestation, the fetal side of the allantochorionic villi in particular displayed pronounced staining upon in situ hybridisation, confirming that MFGE8 expression is not restricted to early pregnancy but persists and is present at the fetal–maternal interface. Potential roles of MFGE8 in equine pregnancy include mediating cell–cell adhesion, promotion of angiogenesis and placental transfer of fatty acids.

Additional keywords: cell adhesion, estrogen, integrins, placenta.


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