The aim of the study was to investigate the expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-I and -II in uterine tissues from pregnant and non-pregnant bitches, taken at different time periods after mating. The pregnant bitches were ovariohysterectomized during the pre-implantation (group 1, n = 4), implantation (group 2, n = 7) and placentation stage (group 3, n = 7). Non-pregnant animals in diestrus served as controls (group 4, n = 7). The expression of MHC- I and -II in salpinx, apex, middle horn, corpus uteri and at implantation sites was investigated by immunohistochemistry as well as qualitative and quantitative RT-PCR; MHC-I mRNA was detected in all tissues and with quantitative RT-PCR, and no significant changes were detected until placentation. Immunohistologically, at the apex and corpus site, the average number of MHC-II positive cells increased from the pre-implantation to the post-implantation stage (apex: 1.54 +/- 1.21 to 3.82 +/- 2.93; corpus: 1.62 +/- 1.9 to 5.04 +/- 4.95; p < 0.05). The greatest numbers of MHC-II positive cells were observed at placentation sites (6.64 +/- 5.9). In parallel, a marked increase in the relative mRNA expression of MHC-II in uterine tissues was assessed from the pre-implantation to the placentation stage (relative to Glycerinaldehyd-3-phosphate-Dehydrogenase (GAPDH): 6.9 +/- 9.5, 8.4 +/- 5.8, p > 0.05). Immunohistologically, in the salpinx, significantly greater numbers of MHC-II positive cells were found in the tissues of pregnant animals than in the control group (p < 0.05). It is proposed that the increase in MHC-II is pregnancy-related, even though the impact on maintenance of canine pregnancy is still unclear.
Animals Dogs/physiology* Female Genes, MHC Class I/genetics Genes, MHC Class I/physiology* Genes, MHC Class II/genetics Genes, MHC Class II/physiology* Immunohistochemistry/veterinary Pregnancy Pregnancy, Animal* Uterus/metabolism*