Characterization of the cervical mucus plug in mares

S. C. Loux, K. E. Scoggin, M. H.T. Troedsson, E. L. Squires, B. A. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The cervical mucus plug (CMP) is believed to play an integral role in the maintenance of pregnancy in the mare, primarily by inhibiting microbial entry. Unfortunately, very little is known about its composition or origin. To determine the proteomic composition of the CMP, we collected CMPs from mares (n = 4) at 9 months of gestation, and proteins were subsequently analyzed by nano-LC-MS/MS. Results were searched against EquCab2.0, and proteomic pathways were predicted by Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. Histologic sections of the CMP were stained with H&E and PAS. To identify the origin of highly abundant proteins in the CMP, we performed qPCR on endometrial and cervical mucosal mRNA from mares in estrus, diestrus as well as mares at 4 and 10 m gestation on transcripts for lactotransferrin, uterine serpin 14, uteroglobin, uteroferrin, deleted in malignant brain tumors 1 and mucins 4, 5b and 6. Overall, we demonstrated that the CMP is composed of a complex milieu of proteins during late gestation, many of which play an important role in immune function. Proteins traditionally considered to be endometrial proteins were found to be produced by the cervical mucosa suggesting that the primary source of the CMP is the cervical mucosa itself. In summary, composition of the equine CMP is specifically regulated not only during pregnancy but also throughout the estrous cycle. The structural and compositional changes serve to provide both a structural barrier as well as a physiological barrier during pregnancy to prevent infection of the fetus and fetal membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-210
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Society for Reproduction and Fertility.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Embryology
  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Cell Biology


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