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Endocrinology. 1999 Nov;140(11):5220-32.

Expression of steroidogenic genes in maternal and extraembryonic cells during early pregnancy in mice.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, The Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

Abstract

The ontogeny and functional role of steroidogenesis during early gestation in rodents is poorly understood. In previous studies, we have shown that expression of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) encoding two key enzymes indispensable for de novo synthesis of steroid hormones, i.e. cholesterol side chain cleavage cytochrome P450 (P450scc) and a newly identified isoform of murine 3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase/isomerase type VI (3betaHSD VI), is initiated upon decidualization of the uterine wall induced by implantation. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemical visualization of 3betaHSD VI mRNA and protein shows high expression of this enzyme in the antimesometrial cells of the decidua of days 6.5-7.5 post coitum (p.c.). Thereafter, expression of 3betaHSD VI in the decidual zones disappears and is replaced by a high expression of mRNA and protein in the embryonal giant trophoblast cells. At the peak of their development on day 9.5 p.c., the mouse giant trophoblast cells also express Steroidogenic Acute Regulatory (StAR) protein, which is required for steroidogenesis in the gonads and adrenal cortex. Our findings also suggest that the declining levels of P450scc, 3betaHSD VI, and StAR proteins between days 10.5-14.5 p.c. in the developing placenta is consistent with previous reports that the mouse placenta is not involved in de novo synthesis of steroids during the second half of pregnancy. Collectively, the results of the present study suggest that, during early phases of pregnancy, local progesterone synthesis in the maternal decidua and the trophoblast layers surrounding the embryonal cavity is important for successful implantation and/or maintenance of pregnancy. We propose that the local production of progesterone acts as an immunosuppressant at the fetal maternal interface preventing the rejection of the fetal allograft.

PMID:
10537152
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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