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Biol Reprod. 2001 Mar;64(3):753-63.

Ectopic transplantation of equine invasive trophoblast.

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Equine Genetics Center, James A. Baker Institute for Animal Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


A system for transplanting invasive equine trophoblast (i.e., chorionic girdle) to ectopic sites has been developed as a means to study the differentiation of this tissue and to assess maternal immune responses to the conceptus tissue in a site outside the uterus. Chorionic girdle was isolated from Day 33 to 34 conceptuses and surgically placed into the vulvar mucosa or subdermal skin of recipient mares. Biopsy specimens of the graft sites for immunohistochemical staining were taken at weekly or biweekly intervals after grafting. Serum samples were collected from each recipient and tested for antibody to donor major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I antigens using the lymphocyte microcytotoxicity assay. Transplanted trophoblast cells expressed differentiation markers associated with invading chorionic girdle and endometrial cup cells. The transplanted trophoblast cells were also labeled by an antibody to eCG. Strong cellular and humoral immune responses to the transplanted tissue were mounted by the recipients, similar to those occurring during normal equine pregnancy. Despite these responses, the invasive trophoblast transplants survived for at least 28 days after grafting and downregulated MHC class I antigens, as do the mature endometrial cup cells in equine pregnancy. These findings suggest that invasive equine trophoblast has the capacity to differentiate fully in equine nonuterine tissues, and that it can evade maternal immune responses independent of the physiological state of pregnancy and in sites other than the uterus.

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