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Biol Reprod. 1990 Feb;42(2):294-300.

Suppression of lymphocyte reactivity by culture supernatant from horse embryos and endometrium.

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  • 1Section of Reproductive Studies, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Kennett Square 19348.


The mechanisms that permit maternal tolerance of the conceptus allograft during early pregnancy in the mare have not been investigated. Embryos and endometria were collected from mares 14 days after ovulation and cultured for 20.5 h. The effect of addition of culture supernatant on incorporation of [3H]thymidine by equine peripheral blood lymphocytes was studied. Culture supernatant from endometrium of nonpregnant mares did not affect lymphocyte blastogenesis, but supernatant from both embryos and endometrium of pregnant mares reduced concanavalin A (Con A)- and phytohemagglutinin-induced blastogenesis. Five of six cultures performed in the present of indomethacin did not contain immunosuppressive factors. The suppressive effect on Con A-induced blastogenesis was eliminated by charcoal treatment of the supernatants and reduced by treatment with trypsin or heat. Blastogenesis of bovine lymphocytes was inhibited by culture supernatant of endometrium from pregnant mares, but not by embryo supernatant. Preincubation of blood lymphocytes with supernatants from endometrium of pregnant mares enhanced subsequent incorporation of [3H]thymidine by lymphocytes. A 24-h delay in addition of embryo culture supernatants significantly reduced the degree of immunosuppression. These results suggest that probably more than one substance interacts with the lymphocyte cultures and the observed blastogenesis reflects the end result of the interaction between suppressive and stimulating factors. The lymphocyte inhibitory effect evident in supernatants from embryos and endometrium from pregnant mares may be important in local immunosuppression and maternal acceptance of pregnancy.

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