The maternal environment modulates immune responses to facilitate embryo development and ensure pregnancy. Unraveling this modulation could improve the livestock breeding systems. Here it is hypothesized that the exposure of the female rabbit reproductive tract to semen, as well as to early embryos, modulates inflammation and angiogenesis among different tissue segments. qPCR analysis of the gene expression changes of the anti-inflammatory interleukin-10 (IL10) and transforming growth factor beta family (TGFβ1–3) and the angiogenesis mediator vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A) were examined in response to mating or insemination with sperm-free seminal plasma (SP). Reproductive tract segment (cervix to infundibulum) samples were obtained in Experiment 1, 20 h after gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) stimulation (control), natural mating (NM) or vaginal infusion with sperm-free SP (SP-AI). Additionally, segmented samples were also obtained at 10, 24, 36, 68 or 72 h after GnRH-stimulation and natural mating (Experiment 2). The results of gene expression, analyzed by quantitative PCR, showed that NM effects were mainly localized in the uterine tissues, depicting clear temporal variation, while SP-AI effects were restricted to the oviduct. Changes in anti-inflammatory and angiogenesis mediators indicate an early response in the uterus and a late modulation in the oviduct either induced by semen or preimplantation embryos. This knowledge could be used in the implementation of physiological strategies in breeding systems to face the new challenges on rabbit productivity and sustainability.
- Gene expression
- Seminal plasma