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Biol Reprod. 2018 Dec 1;99(6):1137-1148. doi: 10.1093/biolre/ioy147.

Cysteine-X-cysteine motif chemokine ligand 12 and its receptor CXCR4: expression, regulation, and possible function at the maternal-conceptus interface during early pregnancy in pigs.

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Department of Biological Science and Technology, Yonsei University, Wonju, Republic of Korea.
Department of Animal Resources Science, Dankook University, Cheonan, Republic of Korea.
Department of Agricultural Biotechnology and Research Institute for Agriculture and Life Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Cysteine-X-cysteine (CXC) motif chemokine ligand 12 (CXCL12) and its receptor, CXC chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4), are involved in regulating the proliferation, migration, and survival of trophoblast cells and the maternal immune response in humans and mice. The present study examined the expression, regulation, and function of CXCL12 and CXCR4 at the maternal-conceptus interface during pregnancy in pigs. The endometrium expressed CXCL12 and CXCR4 mRNAs with the greatest CXCL12 abundance on Day 15 of pregnancy. CXCL12 protein was localized mainly in endometrial epithelial cells, while CXCR4 protein was localized in subepithelial stromal cells, vascular endothelial cells, and immune cells in blood vessels in the endometrium during the estrous cycle and pregnancy. CXCL12 protein was detected in uterine flushing on Day 15 of pregnancy. The conceptus during early pregnancy and chorioallantoic tissues during mid-to-late pregnancy expressed CXCL12 and CXCR4. Interferon-γ increased the abundance of CXCL12, but not CXCR4 mRNA in endometrial explants. Recombinant CXCL12 (rCXCL12) protein dose-dependently increased migration of cultured porcine trophectoderm cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Furthermore, rCXCL12 caused migration of T cells, but not natural killer cells, in PBMCs. This study revealed that interferon-γ-induced CXCL12 and its receptor, CXCR4, were expressed at the maternal-conceptus interface and increased the migration of trophectoderm cells and T cells at the time of implantation in pigs. These results suggest that CXCL12 may be critical for the establishment of pregnancy by regulating trophoblast migration and T cell recruitment into the endometrium during the implantation period in pigs.


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