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Vasc Cell. 2014 Aug 1;6:16. doi: 10.1186/2045-824X-6-16. eCollection 2014.

VEGFR-1 blockade disrupts peri-implantation decidual angiogenesis and macrophage recruitment.

Author information

1
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, PH 16-64, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Columbia University Medical Center, 622 W. 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.
2
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Reproductive Sciences, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Medical Center, 630 West 168th St, New York, NY 10032, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Angiogenesis and macrophage recruitment to the uterus are key features of uterine decidualization; the progesterone-mediated uterine changes that allow for embryo implantation and initiation of pregnancy. In the current study, we characterized the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 (VEGFR-1) in macrophages and endothelial cells of the peri-implantation uterus and determined if VEGFR-1 function is required for decidual angiogenesis, macrophage recruitment, and/or the establishment of pregnancy.

METHODS:

Expression of VEGFR-1 in uterine endothelial cells and macrophages was determined with immunohistochemistry. To assess the effect of continuous VEGFR-1 blockade, adult female mice were given VEGFR-1 blocking antibody, MF-1, every 3 days for 18 days. After 6 doses, females were mated and a final dose of MF-1 was given on embryonic day 3.5. Endothelial cells and macrophages were quantified on embryonic day 7.5. Pregnancy was analyzed on embryonic days 7.5 and 10.5.

RESULTS:

F4/80(+) macrophages are observed throughout the stroma and are abundant adjacent to the endometrial lumen and glands prior to embryo implantation and scatter throughout the decidua post implantation. VEGFR-1 expression is restricted to the uterine endothelial cells. F4/80(+) macrophages were often found adjacent to VEGFR-1(+) endothelial cells in the primary decidual zone. Continuous VEGFR-1 blockade correlates with a significant reduction in decidual vascular and macrophage density, but does not affect embryo implantation or maintenance of pregnancy up to embryonic day 10.5.

CONCLUSIONS:

We found that VEGFR-1 functions in both decidual angiogenesis and macrophage recruitment to the implantation site during pregnancy. VEGFR-1 is expressed by endothelial cells, however blocking VEGFR-1 function in endothelial cells results in reduced macrophage recruitment to the uterus. VEGFR-1 blockade did not compromise the establishment and/or maintenance of pregnancy.

KEYWORDS:

Angiogenesis; Decidua; Endothelial cells; Implantation; Macrophages; Uterus; VEGFR-1

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