Differential expression of the vascular endothelial growth factor-receptor system in the gravid uterus of yorkshire and Meishan pigs.Biol Reprod. 2004 Jul; 71(1):163-9.BR
Litter size in the pig is limited by uterine capacity, which is dependent on uterine size, placental size, and vascularity. Placentae of U.S. pig breeds, such as the Yorkshire, exhibit marked growth from mid to late gestation, increasing their surface area of endometrial attachment. In contrast, placentae of the prolific Chinese Meishan pig exhibit little growth from mid to late gestation; instead, they exhibit a marked and progressive increase in the density of placental blood vessels. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent angiogenic and permeability-enhancing factor that is produced and secreted by placentae of several species, including the pig. The activity of VEGF is mediated through two specific receptors (VEGF-R1 and VEGF-R2), both of which are expressed by placental and endometrial tissues in pigs and are thought to play a role in mediating increased vascularization and/or permeability at the fetal-maternal interface. The objectives of the present study were to determine concentrations of VEGF in fetal blood and placental fluids as well as placental and adjacent endometrial mRNA expression of VEGF, VEGF-R1, and VEGF-R2 on Days 30, 50, 70, 90, and 110 of gestation in Yorkshire and Meishan pigs. Day 90 Meishan conceptuses exhibited marked increases (P < 0.05) in placental VEGF mRNA expression as well as fetal blood and allantoic fluid concentrations of VEGF, which remained elevated through Day 110. In contrast, Yorkshire conceptuses failed to exhibit increases in placental VEGF mRNA expression or concentrations of VEGF in fetal blood or allantoic fluid until Day 110. Receptor mRNA expression patterns differed between Meishan and Yorkshire conceptuses, but no difference was found in their expression levels. Placental efficiency (fetal weight/placental weight) was higher (P < 0.05) on Days 90 and 110 in Meishan than in Yorkshire conceptuses. The earlier increase in VEGF protein and mRNA expression in the Meishan versus the Yorkshire conceptus may explain the previously reported increased vascularity and increased placental efficiency of this breed compared the Yorkshire breed.