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Reproduction. 2006 Dec;132(6):919-29.

Secreted phosphoprotein 1 (osteopontin) is expressed by stromal macrophages in cyclic and pregnant endometrium of mice, but is induced by estrogen in luminal epithelium during conceptus attachment for implantation.

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  • 1Center for Animal Biotechnology and Genomics, Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA.


Secreted phosphoprotein 1 (SPP1, osteopontin) is the most highly upregulated extracellular matrix/adhesion molecule/cytokine in the receptive phase human uterus, and Spp1 null mice manifest decreased pregnancy rates during mid-gestation as compared with wild-type counterparts. We hypothesize that Spp1 is required for proliferation, migration, survival, adhesion, and remodeling of cells at the conceptus-maternal interface. Our objective was to define the temporal/spatial distribution and steroid regulation of Spp1 in mouse uterus during estrous cycle and early gestation. In situ hybridization localized Spp1 to luminal epithelium (LE) and immune cells. LE expression was prominent at proestrus, decreased by estrus, and was nearly undetectable at diestrus. During pregnancy, Spp1 mRNA was not detected in LE until day 4.5 (day 1 = vaginal plug). Spp1-expressing immune cells were scattered within the endometrial stroma throughout the estrous cycle and early pregnancy. Immunoreactive Spp1 was prominent at the apical LE surface by day 4.5 of pregnancy and Spp1 protein was also co-localized with subsets of CD45-positive (leukocytes) and F4/80-positive (macrophages) cells. In ovariectomized mice, estrogen, but not progesterone, induced Spp1 mRNA, whereas estrogen plus progesterone did not induce Spp1 in LE. These results establish that estrogen regulates Spp1 in mouse LE and are the first to identify macrophages that produce Spp1 within the peri-implantation endometrium of any species. We suggest that Spp1 at the apical surface of LE provides a mechanism to bridge conceptus to LE during implantation, and that Spp1-positive macrophages within the stroma may be involved in uterine remodeling for conceptus invasion.

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