, Volume 206, Issue 1, pp 17-28

The Hormonal Control of Uterine Luminal Fluid Secretion and Absorption

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The secretion of uterine luminal fluid initially provides a transport and support medium for spermatozoa and unimplanted embryos, while the absorption of uterine luminal fluid in early pregnancy results in the closure of the lumen and allows blastocysts to establish intimate contact with the uterine epithelium. We have established an in vivo perfusion technique of the lumen to study the hormonal control of the events in the peri-implantation period. Fluorescein-labelled dextran was included in the perfusion medium to monitor fluid movements and the concentrations of Na+ and CI ions in the effluent were monitored. Using an established regimen of steroid treatment of ovariectomized rats mimicking early pregnancy, oestradiol caused fluid secretion, while progesterone resulted in an amiloride-sensitive fluid absorption. Fluid absorption peaked at about the expected time of implantation. The effect of progesterone could be inhibited by treatment with a high dose of oestradiol, by the anti-progestin RU486, and by the presence of an intra-uterine contraceptive device. Studies of expression of Na+ and CI channels (ENaC, CFTR) indicated that these channels were subject to tissue-specific regulation within the uterus, but more work is required to determine their role and the factors controlling their abundance and localization in early pregnancy.