Fibroblast growth factor-2 expression in the preimplantation equine conceptus and endometrium of pregnant and cyclic mares

M. Villani*, P.R. Boxtel, T.A.E. Stout

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Uterine-derived growth factors and cytokines play essential roles in regulating preimplantation conceptus development. In several species, fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) promotes embryogenesis, trophoblast cell migration, and adhesion. This study investigated mRNA expression for FGF2, its receptors (FGFR1-4), the activating factor FGF binding protein (FGF-BP) in equine endometrium and trophectoderm during early pregnancy and the estrous cycle, and localized FGF2 protein in both endometrium and conceptus tissues. FGF2, FGFRs1-4, and FGFBP mRNAs were expressed in endometrium throughout the estrous cycle and early pregnancy, and in days 14 to 28 conceptus membranes. FGF2 transcription was higher during estrus than on days 7 or 14 of diestrus, suggesting estrogen dependency. Endometrial expression of FGF2 mRNA and protein increased as pregnancy progressed from days 21 and day 28; FGF2 protein was localized predominantly in the luminal and glandular epithelium. FGF2 mRNA was detectable in trophectoderm from as early as day 14, and transcription and translation increased in day 21 and 28 allantochorion. FGF2 protein was localized mainly in the trophectoderm up to day 21 but was present in both trophectoderm and endoderm of day 28 allantochorion. FGFR1 mRNA was down-regulated in the endometrium at day 7 of diestrus but increased again by day 14. Gene expression for all of the FGFR2 splice variants, including FGFR2IIIc, was up-regulated during estrus. During early pregnancy, endometrial FGFR1 expression decreased, whereas FGFR2IIIc expression did not change. Conceptus mRNA expression for all FGFRs increased as pregnancy progressed. FGFBP expression remained unchanged in endometrium, but increased in the conceptus between days 14 and 28, suggesting a role in regulating FGF2 activity in the developing conceptus. We conclude that during weeks 3 and 4 of pregnancy, the equine endometrial epithelium produces FGF2, which may play a role in trophoblast development and adhesion.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number9
    Pages (from-to)979-989
    Number of pages10
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


    • Mare
    • Pregnancy
    • FGF2
    • Preimplantation
    • Endometrium
    • Conceptus


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