Interferon and its immunological role in ruminant reproduction
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Interferon tau (IFN-tau) is an key cytokine in maintaining pregnancy in ruminants. It is produced by the ruminant conceptus around the time of implantation. IFN-tau belongs to the type I interferon family but, unlike the other members of this group, it is not virus inducible and its expression is temporal and restricted to the trophoblast cells of the ruminant conceptus. The main target of the paracrine action of this cytokine is the endometrium. It changes the prostaglandin metabolism and secretory function of the cells by upregulating the secretion of several proteins. It also presents immunomodulatory action towards leukocytes by changing their proliferative responses and cytokine production. This cytokine activity in reproductive biology and immunology has been intensively explored for the last ten years. It has been regarded as a potential tool in improving the performance and biotechnological processes in ruminant reproduction. Additionally, its high antiviral potency and low cytotoxicity in comparison with IFN-tau has placed this cytokine in the group of possible therapeutics in human and animal medicine.
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A.Chelmonska-Soyta, Department of Veterinary Prevention and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Agriculture University of Wroclaw, Norwida 31, 50-375 Wroclaw, Poland