Uterine Epithelial Morphology and Progesterone Receptors in A Mifepristone-Treated Viviparous LizardPseudemoia Entrecasteauxii(Squamata: Scincidae) During Gestation

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Structural and functional changes to the uterus associated with maintenance of pregnancy are controlled primarily by steroid hormones such as progesterone. We tested the hypothesis that progesterone regulates uterine structural changes during pregnancy in the viviparous skink, Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii, by treating pregnant females with the progesterone receptor antagonist mifepristone at different stages of pregnancy. Expression and distribution of progesterone receptor was determined using Western blot and immunohistochemistry. During early pregnancy, mifepristone treatment resulted in altered uterine epithelial cell surface morphology and high embryo mortality, but did not affect females at mid and late stages of pregnancy. Females treated with mifepristone in early pregnancy exhibited abnormal uterine epithelial cell morphology such as lateral blebbing and presence of wide gaps between cells indicating loss of intercellular attachment. Chorioallantoic membranes of the embryo were not affected by mifepristone treatment. Two isoforms (55 kDa and 100 kDa) of progesterone receptor were identified using immunoblots and both isoforms were localized to the nucleus of uterine epithelial cells. The 55 kDa isoform was expressed throughout pregnancy, whereas the 100 kDa isoform was expressed during mid and especially late pregnancy. In P. entrecasteauxii, mifepristone may prevent successful embryo attachment in early pregnancy through its effects on uterine epithelial cells but may have little effect on pregnancy once the maternal-embryo structural relationship is established. J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 318:148–158, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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