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Theriogenology. 2007 Jul 15;68(2):237-47. Epub 2007 Jun 7.

The effect of skin allografting on the equine endometrial cup reaction.

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Baker Institute for Animal Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, United States.


This research tested the hypothesis that immunological sensitization of mares by skin allografting, followed by the establishment of pregnancy using semen from the skin-graft donor, would give rise to secondary immune responses to the developing horse conceptus, resulting in an earlier demise of the fetally derived endometrial cups. Maiden mares received skin allografts from a stallion homozygous for Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) antigens and/or equivalent autografts and were subsequently mated to the skin-graft donor stallion during the next two breeding seasons. Mares that had been immunologically primed to the foreign MHC class I antigens of the skin-graft donor stallion developed strong secondary antibody responses early in their first pregnancies, whereas autografted mares made weak primary antibody responses in their first pregnancies and strong secondary responses in their second pregnancies. In contrast, histological examination of the endometrial cups after surgical pregnancy termination at Day 60 of gestation revealed no discernible differences between allografted and autografted mares, and there were no significant differences in the concentrations and/or duration of secretion of the endometrial cup-specific hormone, equine chorionic gonadotrophin (eCG), between allografted and autografted mares, nor in either group between first and second pregnancies. The vigorous antibody response observed in the pregnant allografted mares supported the first part of our hypothesis, providing evidence of systemic immunological priming. However, there was a lack of an equivalent heightened cellular response to the endometrial cups. These findings provided strong evidence for an asymmetric immune response to the conceptus, characterized by strong humoral immunity and a dampened cellular response.

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