The aim of this study was to determine the presence of Pregnancy-associated glycoprotein −1 (PAG-1) mRNA expression in the maternal circulation of pregnant buffaloes during the early stage of pregnancy. Contemporaneously, the mRNA expression levels of Interferon-tau (IFNt) and some Interferon stimulated genes (ISGs) (interferon stimulated gene 15 ubiquitin-like modifier interferon, ISG15; Mixoviruses resistance 1 and 2, MX1 and MX2; 2′,5′-oligoadenylate synthase 1,OAS1) were evaluated in order to expand our knowledge of the molecular processes involved in the early stages of pregnancy and to identify potential biomarkers of maternal-fetal cellular interaction in buffalo. The study was conducted on 38 synchronized and artificially inseminated buffalo cows (d 0), divided ex post into 3 groups: Pregnant (n = 17), Non-pregnant (n = 15) and Embryo mortality (n = 6). Blood samples were collected on d 14, 19, 28 and 40 after artificial insemination (AI) for peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) isolation. Expression levels of mRNA of PAG-1, IFNt, ISG15. MX1, MX2 and OAS1 were measured using RT-qPCR. No significant changes were observed in IFNt and PAG gene expressions between groups, while significant differences (p < 0.001) were found for ISG15, MX1, MX2, and OAS1. Pairwise comparisons revealed that the differences between groups occurred on days 19 and 28 post-AI. ISG15 proved to have the best diagnostic performance for distinguishing between pregnant animals and animals that experienced embryo mortality with the ROC analysis. According to the results of the univariate analyses, day 19 was identified as the most indicative to discriminate between groups while the most reliable genes for this differentiation were ISG15, MX1 and MX2. MX2 proved to be the best gene for discriminating pregnant buffaloes using the discriminant analysis, while MX1 was the gene that best predicted embryo mortality. Our results showed that among PAG-1, IFNt and ISGs expression as diagnostic and prognostic markers of maternal-fetal cellular interaction in buffalo cows, ISGs proved to be the best peripheral biomarkers for predicting pregnancy and embryonic mortality during the peri-implantation period. These insights into the mechanisms behind maternal-fetal interaction and the development of a method for the early detection of embryo distress may enable us to implement effective strategies to support embryo survival.
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