Hot topic: Pregnancy-induced expression of interferon-stimulated genes in the cervical and vaginal mucosal membranes

Hiroki Kunii, Keisuke Koyama, Tsukino Ito, Toshiyuki Suzuki, Ahmed Z. Balboula, Takahiro Shirozu, Hanako Bai, Masashi Nagano, Manabu Kawahara, Masashi Takahashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


In ruminants, IFN-tau (IFNT) is a pregnancy recognition signal secreted by the embryonic trophectoderm before implantation, and it induces the expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISG) in the uterine endometrium and blood leukocytes. The expression of ISG in blood leukocytes could indicate the presence of a viable conceptus before return of the next estrus; however, expression levels have high variation for confirming pregnancy. We hypothesized that the secreted IFNT in the uterus would affect ISG expression in cervical and vaginal tissues because they are directly adjacent to the uterus. To prove the hypothesis, we investigated the expression of 3 ISG (ISG15, MX1, and MX2) in cervical and vaginal mucosal membranes collected from pregnant (n = 12) and nonpregnant (n = 11) lactating Holstein cows at 17 to 18 d after artificial insemination. Mucosal membrane samples of the cervical canal near the external os (cervix) and deep vaginal wall surrounding the external os (vagina) were collected separately by simply scraping with a curette on d 17 or 18 of pregnancy (d 1 = ovulation), at which time IFNT secretion into the maternal uterus is maximal. After pregnancy diagnosis on d 30 and 60, separately collected samples confirmed as pregnant and nonpregnant were used for evaluation of the expression of IFN-stimulated protein 15 kDa (ISG15) and myxovirus-resistance protein 1 and 2 (MX1, MX2) with quantitative real-time PCR. The collected mucosal membrane samples from cervix contained mostly cell clots showing membrane structure and a low content of blood cells. The expression levels of all 3 genes were significantly increased in pregnant cows compared with nonpregnant cows in both cervical and vaginal samples. These results suggest that increased expression of ISG in the cervix and vagina is a pregnancy-associated phenomenon and is highly affected by IFNT secreted from the conceptus through the uterus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8396-8400
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 09-2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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