To investigate the effects of pregnancy or post-ovulatory progesterone (P(4)) supplementation on the expression of oestrogen and P(4) receptors (ESRs and PGRs) in the bovine uterus, heifers (n=263) were randomly assigned to the following treatments: i) cyclic, normal P(4); ii) cyclic, high P(4); iii) pregnant, normal P(4); and iv) pregnant, high P(4) on days 5, 7, 13 and 16 of pregnancy/oestrous cycle. Elevated P(4) was achieved through P(4)-releasing intravaginal device insertion on day 3 after oestrus, resulting in increased concentrations from day 3.5 to 8 (P<0.05) in the high groups than in the normal groups. Irrespective of treatment, PGR and ESR1 mRNA expressions were highest on days 5 and 7 and decreased on day 13 (P<0.05), while ESR2 mRNA expression increased on day 7 (P<0.05) and similar levels were maintained within the normal P(4) groups subsequently. Expression in the high P(4) groups decreased on day 13 (P<0.05). PGR-AB and PGR-B protein expressions were high in the luminal and superficial glands on days 5 and 7, but by day 13, expression had declined to very low or undetectable levels and high P(4) concentration tended to decrease or decreased significantly (P<0.05) the expression in these regions on days 5 and 7. ESR1 protein expression was high, with no treatment effect. ESR2 protein was also highly expressed, with no clear effect of treatment. In conclusion, early post-ovulatory P(4) supplementation advances the disappearance of PGR protein from the luminal epithelium on days 5 and 7, and decreases ESR2 mRNA expression during the mid-luteal phase, but has no effect on PGR or ESR1 mRNA expression.
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