Nocardioform placentitis (NP) continues to result in episodic outbreaks of abortion and preterm birth in mares and remains a poorly understood disease. The objective of this study was to characterize the transcriptome of the chorioallantois (CA) of mares with NP. The CA were collected from mares with confirmed NP based upon histopathology, microbiological culture and PCR for Amycolatopsis spp. Samples were collected from the margin of the NP lesion (NPL, n = 4) and grossly normal region (NPN, n = 4). Additionally, CA samples were collected from normal postpartum mares (Control; CRL, n = 4). Transcriptome analysis identified 2892 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in NPL vs. CRL and 2450 DEGs in NPL vs. NPN. Functional genomics analysis elucidated that inflammatory signaling, toll-like receptor signaling, inflammasome activation, chemotaxis, and apoptosis pathways are involved in NP. The increased leukocytic infiltration in NPL was associated with the upregulation of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP1, MMP3, and MMP8) and apoptosis-related genes, such as caspases (CASP3 and CASP7), which could explain placental separation associated with NP. Also, NP was associated with downregulation of several placenta-regulatory genes (ABCG2, GCM1, EPAS1, and NR3C1), angiogenesis-related genes (VEGFA, FLT1, KDR, and ANGPT2), and glucose transporter coding genes (GLUT1, GLUT10, and GLUT12), as well as upregulation of hypoxia-related genes (HIF1A and EGLN3), which could elucidate placental insufficiency accompanying NP. In conclusion, our findings revealed for the first time, the key regulators and mechanisms underlying placental inflammation, separation, and insufficiency during NP, which might lead to the development of efficacious therapies or diagnostic aids by targeting the key molecular pathways.

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Published in Veterinary Research, v. 52, issue 1, article no. 103.

© The Author(s) 2021

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

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This study is supported by the Koller Priority Response Fund and the Albert G. Clay Endowment of the University of Kentucky.

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Additional file 7. List of predicted ligand and receptor pairs and their expression patterns in equine chorioallantois (CA) during nocardioform placentitis dataset