Female Reproductive System and Immunology

  • Yukinori YoshimuraEmail author
  • Animesh Barua
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1001)


Health of the reproductive organs is essential for formation and production of high quality and hygienic eggs. It is of importance to review the structures and functions of female reproductive system for better understanding of the mechanism by which the eggs are formed. The unique functions of ovarian cells for follicular growth and differentiation as well as steroidogenesis and oocyte maturation are regulated by gonadotropins and gonadal steroids. The oviduct is responsible for egg formation, while the unique function to store sperms for a prolonged period takes place in the specific tissue of this organ. The unique innate and adaptive immuno-defense systems that play essential role to prevent infection are developed in the ovary and oviduct. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) that recognize the molecular pattern of microbes and initiate the immunoresponse are expressed in those organs. Avian β-defensins (AvBDs), a member of antimicrobial peptides, are synthesized by the ovarian and oviductal cells. Challenge of those cells by TLR ligands upregulates the expression of proinflammatory cytokines, which in turn stimulate the expression of AvBDs. The adaptive immune system in the ovary and oviduct is also unique, since the migration of lymphocytes is enhanced by estrogens. In contrast to the development of immuno-defense system, spontaneous ovarian cancer and uterine fibroids appear more frequently in chickens than in mammals, and thus chickens could be used as a model for studying these diseases. Thus the avian reproductive organs have unique functions not only for egg formation but also for the immuno-defense system, which is essential for prevention of infection and production of hygienic eggs.


Ovarian follicles Oviduct Oogenesis Oocyte maturation Sperm storage Immuno-defense Toll-like receptors Antimicrobial peptides Ovarian cancer 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Biosphere Science, Hiroshima UniversityHigashi-HiroshimaJapan
  2. 2.Departments of Pharmacology, Obstetrics & Gynecology and PathologyRush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA

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