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Hooshmandabbasi, Reyhaneh; Kazemian, Ali; Zerbe, Holm; Kowalewski, Mariusz P. and Klisch, Karl (2021): Macrophages in bovine term placenta: An ultrastructural and molecular study. In: Reproduction in Domestic Animals, Vol. 56, No. 9: pp. 1243-1253

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Retention of foetal membranes (RFM) is a major reproductive disorder in dairy cows. An appropriate immune response is important for a physiological expulsion of the foetal membranes at parturition. Our study aims to provide a deeper insight into characteristics of foetal and maternal macrophages in bovine term placenta. We used transmission electron microscopy (TEM), immunohistochemistry and semi-quantitative RT-PCR to provide a deeper insight into characteristics of foetal and maternal macrophages in bovine term placenta. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR was used to define macrophage polarization in foetal and maternal compartments of normal term placenta. Gene expression of factors involved in M1 polarization [interferon regulatory factor-5 (IRF5), interleukin (IL)-12A, IL12B] and in M2 polarization (IL10) were studied. Ultrastructurally, foetal macrophages showed an irregular shape and large vacuoles, whereas the maternal macrophages were spindle shaped. By immunohistochemistry, macrophages were identified by a strong staining with the lysosomal marker Lysosome-associated membrane glycoprotein 1 (LAMP-1), while myofibroblast in the maternal stroma was positive for alpha-smooth muscle actin. We used the LAMP-1 marker to compare the density of foetal stromal macrophages in placentas of cows with RFM and in controls, but no statistically significant difference was observed. RT-PCR showed a higher expression of all studied genes in the maternal compartment of the placenta and generally a higher expression of M1-, compared to M2-associated genes. Our results indicated that at parturition placental macrophages predominantly show the pro-inflammatory M1 polarization. The higher expression of all the target genes in the maternal compartment may denote that maternal macrophages in bovine term placenta are more frequent than foetal macrophages.

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