The antiviral activity of interferon (IFN) increases in uterine vein serum (UVS) during early pregnancy in sheep. This antiviral activity in UVS collected on Day 15 of pregnancy is blocked by anti-IFN-tau (anti-IFNT) antibodies. Conceptus-derived IFNT was hypothesized to induce IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) expression in endometrium and extrauterine tissues during pregnancy. To test this hypothesis, blood was collected from ewes on Days 12–16 of the estrous cycle or pregnancy. Serum progesterone was >1.7 ng/ml in pregnant (P) and nonpregnant (NP) ewes until Day 13, then declined to <0.6 ng/ml by Day 15 in NP ewes. A validated IFNT radioimmunoassay detected IFNT in uterine flushings (UFs) on Days 13–16 and in UVS on Days 15–16 of pregnancy. IFNT detection in UF correlated with paracrine induction of ISGs in the endometrium and occurred prior to the inhibition of estrogen receptor 1 and oxytocin receptor expression in uterine epithelia on Day 14 of pregnancy. Induction of ISG mRNAs in corpus luteum (CL) and liver tissue occurred by Day 14 and in peripheral blood mononuclear cells by Day 15 in P ewes. Expression of mRNAs for IFN signal transducers and ISGs were greater in the CL of P than that of NP ewes on Day 14. It is concluded that: 1) paracrine actions of IFNT coincide with detection of IFNT in UF; 2) endocrine action of IFNT ensues through induction of ISGs in peripheral tissues; and 3) IFNT can be detected in UVS, but not until Days 15–16 of pregnancy, which may be limited by the sensitivity of the IFNT radioimmunoassay.
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Vol. 93 • No. 6