VEGFR-1 blockade disrupts peri-implantation decidual angiogenesis and macrophage recruitment
Background: Angiogenesis and macrophage recruitment to the uterus are key features of uterine decidualization; the progesterone-mediated uterine changes that allow for embryo implantation and initiation of pregnancy. In the current study, we characterized the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 (VEGFR-1) in macrophages and endothelial cells of the peri-implantation uterus and determined if VEGFR-1 function is required for decidual angiogenesis, macrophage recruitment, and/or the establishment of pregnancy. Methods: Expression of VEGFR-1 in uterine endothelial cells and macrophages was determined with immunohistochemistry. To assess the effect of continuous VEGFR-1 blockade, adult female mice were given VEGFR-1 blocking antibody, MF-1, every 3 days for 18 days. After 6 doses, females were mated and a final dose of MF-1 was given on embryonic day 3.5. Endothelial cells and macrophages were quantified on embryonic day 7.5. Pregnancy was analyzed on embryonic days 7.5 and 10.5. Results: F4/80+ macrophages are observed throughout the stroma and are abundant adjacent to the endometrial lumen and glands prior to embryo implantation and scatter throughout the decidua post implantation. VEGFR-1 expression is restricted to the uterine endothelial cells. F4/80+ macrophages were often found adjacent to VEGFR-1+ endothelial cells in the primary decidual zone. Continuous VEGFR-1 blockade correlates with a significant reduction in decidual vascular and macrophage density, but does not affect embryo implantation or maintenance of pregnancy up to embryonic day 10.5. Conclusions: We found that VEGFR-1 functions in both decidual angiogenesis and macrophage recruitment to the implantation site during pregnancy. VEGFR-1 is expressed by endothelial cells, however blocking VEGFR-1 function in endothelial cells results in reduced macrophage recruitment to the uterus. VEGFR-1 blockade did not compromise the establishment and/or maintenance of pregnancy.
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- Vascular Cell