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Biol Reprod. 1990 Feb;42(2):367-76.

Tumor necrosis factor production and accumulation of inflammatory cells in the corpus luteum of pseudopregnancy and pregnancy in rabbits.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-0622.


The potential involvement of macrophages, T lymphocytes, and the cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in regression of the corpus luteum was investigated at different stages of pseudopregnancy and pregnancy by use of immunocytochemical methods and a TNF bioassay. Few macrophages (11 +/- 6 per high power field of 8-microns frozen sections of corpus luteum, Day 10 of pseudopregnancy) were observed until the very end of pseudopregnancy, when the number of macrophages increased greatly (176 +/- 42 per high power field, Day 19 of pseudopregnancy). Pregnancy, of 32 days duration, delayed large-scale macrophage accumulation until 3 days after parturition (154 +/- 30 per high power field). Low TNF activity (approximately 1.0 U/mg protein) was detected in incubations of luteal tissue at all stages; in response to lipopolysaccharide, TNF values in medium increased 10- to 30-fold at times of luteal regression and macrophage accumulation (1 day postpartum and Day 19 of pseudopregnancy). Class II-positive T lymphocytes were observed in luteal tissue, but unlike macrophages, the number of lymphocytes did not increase at the time of regression of the corpus luteum. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that involution of the corpus luteum is promoted through the interactions of inflammatory cells and action of TNF, although the action of TNF has not been determined in this luteal tissue. Through unknown mechanisms, pregnancy postpones the accumulation of macrophages in the corpus luteum, in association with the prolongation of luteal function until the time of parturition.

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