Molecular Human Reproduction
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The study investigated the effect of normal and supraphysiological (resulting from gonadotropin-dependent ovarian stimulation) levels of estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) on mouse uterine aquaporin gene/protein (Aqp/AQP) expression on Day 1 (D1) and D4 of pregnancy. The study also examined the effect of ovarian stimulation on uterine luminal closure and uterine receptivity on D4 of pregnancy and embryo implantation on D5 and D7 of pregnancy. These analyses revealed that the expression of Aqp3, Aqp4, Aqp5 and Aqp8 is induced by E2 while the expression of Aqp1 and Aqp11 is induced by P4. Additionally, P4 inhibits E2 induction of Aqp3 and Aqp4 expression while E2 inhibits Aqp1 and Aqp11 expression. Aqp9, however, is constitutively expressed. Ovarian stimulation disrupts Aqp3, Aqp5 and Aqp8 expression on D4 and AQP1, AQP3 and AQP5 spatial expression on both D1 and D4, strikingly so in the myometrium. Interestingly, while ovarian stimulation has no overt effect on luminal closure and uterine receptivity, it reduces implantation events, likely through a disruption in myometrial activity and embryo development. The wider implication of this study is that ovarian stimulation, which results in supraphysiological levels of E2 and P4 and changes (depending on the degree of stimulation) in the E2:P4 ratio, triggers abnormal expression of uterine AQP during pregnancy, and this is associated with implantation failure. These findings lead us to recognize that abnormal expression would also occur under any pathological state (such as endometriosis) that is associated with changes in the normal E2:P4 ratio. Thus, infertility among these patients might in part be linked to abnormal uterine AQP expression.