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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2004 Dec 28;102(4):363-77.

The proliferation inhibitory proteins p27(Kip1) and retinoblastoma are involved in the control of equine lymphocyte proliferation.

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  • 1Baker Institute for Animal Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. mbf6@cornell.edu


Observations in early equine pregnancy clearly reveal maternal immune recognition of and response to the presence of the conceptus. Nevertheless, both maternal cellular and humoral responses appear ineffective in destroying the developing placenta and fetus in early pregnancy. Our previous studies had shown that the pre-conditioned medium generated from the culture of equine invasive trophoblast inhibited mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation and the expression of cytokine messenger RNA in vitro. Those findings also suggested that lymphocytes might have been halted in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle. To characterize the cell cycle and the intracellular mechanisms involved in the inhibition of lymphocyte proliferation, equine peripheral blood lymphocytes were cultured in the presence or absence of pokeweed mitogen (PWM) in fresh medium, or in medium pre-conditioned through cell culture of invasive trophoblast cells or fetal fibroblasts. Two-color flow cytometric analysis for bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation by stimulated lymphocytes, and concomitant DNA staining with 7-amino-actinomycin D (7-AAD), indicated that a greater proportion of lymphocytes were found in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle when cultured in the invasive trophoblast cell pre-conditioned medium compared to controls. Analysis using carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester (CFSE) fluorescence intensity demonstrated that lymphocytes cultured in the presence of invasive trophoblast cell pre-conditioned medium had fewer cells going through division, but that those fewer cells sustained similar numbers of cell divisions as in control cultures. Hypophosphorylated retinoblastoma (Rb) protein expression was increased and p27Kip1 expression was maintained at higher levels in lymphocytes cultured in invasive trophoblast pre-conditioned medium compared to fresh medium. In agreement with these data, flow cytometric measurement of the Ki-67 protein expression in lymphocytes cultured in invasive trophoblast pre-conditioned medium was lower in comparison to controls. These findings suggest that the equine lymphocyte proliferation is at least partially regulated by the expression of proliferation inhibitory proteins such as p27Kip1 and hypophosphorylated Rb. These proteins seem to be important regulators of cell cycle transition between G1 and S phase in equine lymphocytes.

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