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Immunol Cell Biol. 1998 Dec;76(6):483-96.

Early pregnancy factor: an extracellular chaperonin 10 homologue.

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University of Queensland, Department of Surgery, Clinical Sciences Building, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


Early pregnancy factor (EPF) has been identified as a homologue of chaperonin 10 (cpn10) with immunosuppressive and growth factor properties. As a homologue of cpn10, it belongs to the heat shock family of proteins (hsp) but, unlike other members of this family, EPF is detected extracellularly. Early pregnancy factor was first discovered in pregnancy serum by the rosette inhibition test, and the novelty of its discovery was that its presence could diagnose pregnancy within 6-24 h of a fertile mating. As well as being a monitor of the presence of a viable embryo, it is necessary for embryonic survival. In this capacity it acts as both an immunosuppressant and growth factor. Early pregnancy factor is also a product of proliferating primary and neoplastic cells and functions as an autocrine growth factor both in vivo and in vitro. It has a modifying effect on the outcome of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an animal model of multiple sclerosis. Early pregnancy factor is considered to be one of the major factors involved in the modification of multiple sclerosis observed during pregnancy.

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