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Published in Reproduction (2007) 133 991–1003


Cells expressing class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules are found within the corpus luteum (CL) of several species. Expression and localization of class II MHC molecules in the bovine CL were examined in the present study. Immunohistochemical evaluation revealed class II MHC molecules on single cells in early CL (days 4 and 5 post-estrus). Two class II MHC-expressing cell types were observed in midcycle CL (days 10–12 post-estrus), single cells similar to those observed in the early CL, and endothelial cells. Not all endothelial cells expressed class II MHC, and further investigation revealed expression of only one type of class II MHC molecule, DR, on endothelial cells. Class II MHC was also localized to endothelial cells in late CL (day 18 post-estrus). Steroidogenic luteal cells were negative for class II MHC throughout the estrous cycle. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed higher (P!0.05) concentrations of mRNA encoding the α-subunit of DR (DRA) in late CL when compared with those in the early CL. DRA mRNA abundance was also measured in cultures of mixed luteal and luteal endothelial (CLENDO) cells, in the presence or absence of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF). No differences were found in the DRA mRNA concentration between mixed luteal and CLENDO cell cultures, and TNF had no effect on DRA mRNA concentration in both cell types. Expression of DR by endothelial cells of the midcycle CL may induce anergy of T lymphocytes, or stimulate them to secrete products that enhance normal luteal function.

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