Localization of mRNA for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), angiopoietins and their receptors during the peri-implantation period and early pregnancy in marmosets (Callithrix jacchus)

A J Rowe, C Wulff, H M Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Implantation of a blastocyst into a receptive endometrium is a prerequisite for successful pregnancy. Angiogenesis is a key event in this process but the mechanisms by which localized changes in vascular permeability and angiogenesis occur have yet to be elucidated. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptors VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2 have been implicated as key players in vascular remodelling and placentation. Angiopoietins also appear to have a significant role in regulation of blood vessel growth, maturation and regression. The aim of this study was to describe the molecular regulation of angiogenesis in the first month of pregnancy in marmosets and to address the putative physiological roles for these factors. Uteri were studied at weeks 2, 3 and 4 of pregnancy and compared with late secretory non-pregnant endometrium. Implantation in marmosets occurs at day 11 of pregnancy; hence, these time points were chosen so that the peri-implantation period and very early pregnancy could be studied. mRNAs for VEGF, VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2, angiopoietin 1, angiopoietin 2 and their receptor Tie-2 were localized and quantified by in situ hybridization. Endothelial cells were identified by CD31 immunocytochemistry. VEGF mRNA was present in all compartments except endothelial cells, and its expression generally increased throughout pregnancy except in upper zone glandular epithelium and luminal epithelium, where a decrease in expression was observed. VEGF receptor mRNAs were found in endothelial cells of the upper zones immediately surrounding glandular epithelium. Angiopoietin 1 mRNA was localized to glandular epithelium of the upper and lower zones throughout pregnancy, and increased in stroma at week 4. Expression of angiopoietin 2 mRNA was localized exclusively to endothelial cells of large luminal vessels and was higher in endometrium from marmosets at week 4 of pregnancy than in endometrium from all other stages. These data provide comprehensive evidence that VEGFR-1 and -2, and angiopoietin 1, angiopoietin 2 and Tie-2 interactions may be involved in the preparation of endometrium for implantation, remodelling of the maternal vasculature and trophoblast invasion during the peri-implantation period in this primate species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-38
Number of pages12
JournalReproduction
Volume126
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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