Melbourne Veterinary School - Theses

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    Investigating the inflammatory pathways involved in placental detachment in the mare
    Rosales, Cristina Maria ( 2018)
    The mechanism of placental detachment in the mare has not been investigated in detail and as such remains poorly understood. Research in other species provides strong evidence that parturition and fetal membrane detachment from the endometrium requires involvement of the immune response. Research in horses has also suggested that movement of leukocytes in the umbilical vessels, and their attraction to fetal membranes at parturition, contribute to placental detachment. The aims of this study were to 1) confirm whether a leukocyte “concentration gradient” exists between the equine neonatal umbilical artery and vein, and whether this gradient was associated with fetal membrane retention time 2) to investigate the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the equine endometrium and fetal membranes at parturition using quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) and 3) to localise pro-inflammatory cytokine proteins within the equine endometrial and fetal membrane tissues using immunohistochemistry to correlate with gene expression. Data was collected from 33 spontaneously foaling mares and their foals on a single Thoroughbred stud farm in New Zealand. Umbilical artery and vein blood, fetal membrane and endometrial biopsy tissue samples were obtained. The average fetal membrane retention time was 92 (+/-130) minutes. The median fatal membrane retention time was 47 minutes (IQR 30). There was a significantly higher number of total leukocytes, lymphocytes and neutrophils in the equine neonatal umbilical artery than the umbilical vein at parturition (p <0.001). Fetal membrane retention time tended to decrease with an increase in umbilical leukocyte concentration gradient but did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.098). The mRNA expression of IL-1, IL-6 and IL-8 was significantly greater in the endometrium of foaling mares compared to control mares (p < 0.001). The mRNA expression of IL-8 was significantly higher in the fetal membranes of foaling compared to control mares (p < 0.001) whereas mRNA expression of IL-6 in fetal membranes was significantly lower between the two groups (p< 0.001). Whilst mRNA expression for IL-1 was lower in the fetal membranes of foaling mares compared to controls, the difference was not significant (p = 0.16). This study has demonstrated the presence of an innate inflammatory immune response in the placenta of spontaneously foaling mares, suggesting the role of inflammation in the detachment of the fetal membranes from the endometrium. The results from this study have highlighted the need to further investigate the mechanism of placental detachment in the mare and also understand the pathophysiology behind abnormal fetal membrane retention.
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