Interleukin 8 in the cervix of non-pregnant ewes

Sharon Elizabeth Mitchell, J J Robinson, M E King, W A C McKelvey, Lynda Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Studies of cervical artificial insemination of ewes at hormone-synchronized oestrus indicate that the cervix remains relatively impenetrable to semen, in contrast to naturally breeding animals. During parturition the inflammatory response plays an important part in cervical dilation and possibly, to a lesser extent, in the non-pregnant cervix at oestrus to facilitate the transcervical transport of semen. The expression of interleukin 8 (IL-8), a pro-inflammatory cytokine in the ovine cervix, has been mapped and quantified, using semi-quantitative in situ hybridization, to ascertain the role played by inflammation in the ovine cervix during natural and artificially induced oestrous cycles. IL-8 gene expression was observed in both the luminal epithelium and fibroblastic cells of the cervix. The presence of IL-8 was confirmed using immunohistochemistry. IL-8 gene expression in the luminal epithelium varied throughout the oestrous cycle and was highest at oestrus and at day 5 of the oestrous cycle. In ewes artificially induced to ovulate, either by the withdrawal of progesterone pessaries after treatment for 12 days, or by two i.m. injections of prostaglandin 9 days apart, IL-8 gene expression at oestrus was significantly lower than it was at natural oestrus. Insemination increased IL-8 gene expression in progesterone-synchronized ewes. These data support the hypothesis that IL-8-induced inflammation is important in normal cervical function and that this process is inhibited during artificial synchronization of the oestrous cycle and is increased by exposure to semen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-416
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2002


  • tonic LH-secretion
  • uterine cervix
  • plasma progesterone
  • nitric-oxide
  • prostaglandins
  • insemination
  • endometrium
  • supression
  • parturition
  • expression


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