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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56161. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056161. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

Progesterone is essential for protecting against LPS-induced pregnancy loss. LIF as a potential mediator of the anti-inflammatory effect of progesterone.

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Centro de Estudios Farmacológicos y Botánicos (CONICET-UBA), Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) administration to mice on day 7 of gestation led to 100% embryonic resorption after 24 h. In this model, nitric oxide is fundamental for the resorption process. Progesterone may be responsible, at least in part, for a Th2 switch in the feto-maternal interface, inducing active immune tolerance against fetal antigens. Th2 cells promote the development of T cells, producing leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), which seems to be important due to its immunomodulatory action during early pregnancy. Our aim was to evaluate the involvement of progesterone in the mechanism of LPS-induced embryonic resorption, and whether LIF can mediate hormonal action. Using in vivo and in vitro models, we provide evidence that circulating progesterone is an important component of the process by which infection causes embryonic resorption in mice. Also, LIF seems to be a mediator of the progesterone effect under inflammatory conditions. We found that serum progesterone fell to very low levels after 24 h of LPS exposure. Moreover, progesterone supplementation prevented embryonic resorption and LPS-induced increase of uterine nitric oxide levels in vivo. Results show that LPS diminished the expression of the nuclear progesterone receptor in the uterus after 6 and 12 h of treatment. We investigated the expression of LIF in uterine tissue from pregnant mice and found that progesterone up-regulates LIF mRNA expression in vitro. We observed that LIF was able to modulate the levels of nitric oxide induced by LPS in vitro, suggesting that it could be a potential mediator of the inflammatory action of progesterone. Our observations support the view that progesterone plays a critical role in a successful pregnancy as an anti-inflammatory agent, and that it could have possible therapeutic applications in the prevention of early reproductive failure associated with inflammatory disorders.

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