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Histochem Cell Biol. 2002 Dec;118(6):479-89. Epub 2002 Nov 27.

Functional and structural regression of the rabbit corpus luteum is associated with altered luteal immune cell phenotypes and cytokine expression patterns.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Reproductive Biology, Wendlingweg 2, 52074 Aachen, Germany.


Following attenuation of progesterone production corpora lutea are selectively cleared, a process associated with recruitment of macrophages. In the rabbit little is known about luteal immune cell phenotypes and expression of cytokines, which influence immune cells and resident luteal cells, during luteolysis. Consequently, we studied luteal immune cells by immunohistochemistry as well as luteal IL-10, TNFalpha, MCP-1, IFN-gamma, and IL-1beta mRNA expression by semiquantitative RT-PCR from day 8 to day 20 in pseudopregnant rabbits (d8-d20 p.hCG). Luteal function was assayed by serum progesterone levels. Functional luteolysis commenced by d14 p.hCG as indicated by attenuation of serum progesterone levels. X4(+) tissue macrophage levels increased transiently on d12 and d14 p.hCG, whereas CD5(+) T-cell levels transiently declined on these two days. CD68(+) macrophages increased progressively after d16 p.hCG. The luteal mRNA level of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 as well as the mRNA levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNFalpha and MCP-1 increased after d16 p.hCG and remained elevated up to d20 p.hCG. IFN-gamma and IL-1beta mRNA expression did not vary systematically. In summary, luteolysis was associated with an initial transient increase of X4(+) macrophages and decrease of CD5(+) T-cells, and later recruitment of CD68(+) macrophages. During structural regression pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines are upregulated possibly to control immune cell function.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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