Understanding Gene Expression and Physiology During Equine Pregnancy

A recently published study has resulted in a significant step forward in understanding the physiology of equine pregnancy.
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Understanding Gene Expression and Physiology During Equine Pregnancy
The University of Kentucky study resulted in several notable firsts. | Photo: iStock
A recently published study has resulted in a significant step forward in understanding the physiology of pregnancy. Shavahn Loux, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar within the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center, conducted this work in conjunction with fellow Gluck Center researchers and scholars Pouya Dini, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ECAR, ACT; Hossam El-Sheikh Ali, PhD; Theodore Kalbfleisch, PhD; and Barry Ball, PhD, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, Albert G. Clay Endowed Chair in Equine Reproduction.

The study, titled, “Characterization of the placental transcriptome through mid to late gestation in the mare,” resulted in several notable firsts.

“This paper represents the first comprehensive look at gene expression in the placenta (fetal and maternal) in the middle to late time points of pregnancy and should provide researchers with vital information about the interaction occurring at the feto-maternal interface as pregnancy progresses,” Loux said. “By better understanding the gene expression landscape during pregnancy, this work provides a significant step toward understanding the physiology of pregnancy, thereby aiding the identification of novel drug targets and reducing the incidence of late-term abortions.”

She said the study also helps establish the horse as a valuable model for investigating biological communication between the developing fetus and the mother, or feto-maternal communication. The study demonstrated the ability to effectively separate maternal and fetal components of the placenta, with only a minimal amount of chorioallantoic (fetal membrane) contamination in the endometrium

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