This study aimed to investigate the role of epithelial cells in regulating innate immunity in bovine oviduct epithelial cell (BOEC) culture. We studied the effect of Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and its interaction with ovarian steroids, estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4), and luteinizing hormone (LH) at concentrations observed during the preovulatory period on immune responses in BOEC culture. Immunohistochemistry of oviduct tissue showed intensive expression of Toll-like receptor-4 (TLR-4) and TLR-2 in epithelial cells. A dose of 10 ng/ml LPS stimulated TLR-4, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), nuclear factor kappa B inhibitor A (NFKBIA), interleukin 1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) expression, indicating an early pro-inflammatory response. A dose of 100 ng/ml LPS did not induce expression of these genes but stimulated TLR-2, IL-10,IL-4 and microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1 (mPGES-1) expression and PGE2 secretion, indicating an anti-inflammatory response. Ovarian steroids and LH completely block LPS (10 ng/ml)-induced TLR-4, IL-1β and TNF-α expression as well as LPS (100 ng/ml)-induced TLR-2 expression. Taken together, this study suggests the existence of an early signaling system to respond to infection in the BOEC. In addition, ovarian steroids and LH may play a critical role in inducing homeostasis and in controlling hyperactive pro-inflammatory responses detrimental to epithelial cells, sperm and the embryo.
2013 Society for Reproduction and Development