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Ophélie Téteau, Manon Jaubert, Alice Desmarchais, Pascal Papillier, Aurélien Binet, Virginie Maillard and Sébastien Elis

Bisphenols, plasticisers used in food containers, can transfer to food. Bisphenol A (BPA) has been described as an endocrine disruptor and consequently banned from the food industry in several countries. It was replaced by a structural analogue, Bisphenol S (BPS). BPA action on the steroidogenesis is one of the mechanisms underlying its adverse effects on the efficiency of female reproduction. This study aimed to determine whether BPS is a safe alternative to BPA regarding GC functions. Antral follicles (2–6 mm), of approximatively 1000 adult ewe ovaries, were aspired and GC purified. For 48 h, ovine GC were treated with BPA or BPS (from 1 nM to 200 µM) and the effects on cell viability, proliferation, steroid production, steroidogenic enzyme expression and signalling pathways were investigated. Dosages at and greater than 100 μM BPA and 10 µM BPS decreased progesterone secretion by 39% (P < 0.001) and 22% (P = 0.040), respectively. BPA and BPS 10 μM and previously mentioned concentrations increased oestradiol secretion two-fold (P < 0.001 and P = 0.082, respectively). Only 100 µM BPA induced a decrease (P < 0.001) in gene expression of the enzymes of steroidogenesis involved in the production of progesterone. BPA reduced MAPK3/1 phosphorylation and ESR1 and ESR2 gene expression, effects that were not observed with BPS. BPA and BPS altered steroidogenesis of ovine GC. Thus, BPS does not appear to be a safe alternative for BPA. Further investigations are required to elucidate BPA and BPS mechanisms of action.

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Geunho Maeng, Wuming Gong, Satyabrata Das, Demetris Yannopoulos, Daniel J Garry and Mary G Garry

Blind enucleation is used in porcine somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) to remove the metaphase II (MII) spindle from the oocyte. Deviation of the MII spindle location, however, leads to incomplete enucleation (IE). Here, we report that the rate of complete enucleation (CE) using the blind method was 80.2 ± 1.7%, although this significantly increased when the polar body-MII deviation was minimized (≦45°). While it is established that IE embryos will not survive to full term, the effect of IE on early stage development is unknown. We have previously demonstrated in mice and pigs that ETV2 deletion results in embryonic lethality due to the lack of hematoendothelial lineages. We observed that ETV2-null cloned embryos derived from blindly and incompletely enucleated oocytes had both WT and mutant sequences at E18 and, using FISH analysis, we observed triploidy. We also compared SCNT embryos generated from either CE or intentionally IE oocytes using the spindle viewer system. We observed a higher in vitro blastocyst rate in the IE versus the CE-SCNT embryos (31.9 ± 3.2% vs 21.0 ± 2.1%). Based on known processes in normal fertilization, we infer that the IE-SCNT embryos extruded the haploid second PB after fusion with donor fibroblasts and formed a near-triploid aneuploid nucleus in each blastomere. These studies demonstrate the peri-implantation survival of residual haploid nuclei following IE and emphasize the need for complete enucleation especially for the analysis of SCNT embryos in the peri-implantation stage and will, further, impact the field of reverse xenotransplantation.

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Zaramasina L Clark, Derek A Heath, Anne R O’Connell, Jennifer L Juengel, Kenneth P McNatty and Janet L Pitman

Ewes with single copy mutations in GDF9, BMP15 or BMPR1B have smaller preovulatory follicles containing fewer granulosa cells (GC), while developmental competency of the oocyte appears to be maintained. We hypothesised that similarities and/or differences in follicular maturation events between WT (++) ewes and mutant ewes with single copy mutations in BMP15 and BMPR1B (I+B+) are key to the attainment of oocyte developmental competency and for increasing ovulation rate (OR) without compromising oocyte quality. Developmental competency of oocytes from I+B+ animals was confirmed following embryo transfer to recipient ewes. The microenvironment of both growing and presumptive preovulatory (PPOV) follicles from ++ and I+B+ ewes was investigated. When grouped according to gonadotropin-responsiveness, PPOV follicles from I+B+ ewes had smaller mean diameters with fewer GC than equivalent follicles in ++ ewes (OR = 4.4 ± 0.7 and 1.7 ± 0.2, respectively; P < 0.001). Functional differences between these genotypes included differential gonadotropin-responsiveness of GC, follicular fluid composition and expression levels of cumulus cell-derived VCAN, PGR, EREG and BMPR2 genes. A unique microenvironment was characterised in I+B+ follicles as they underwent maturation. Our evidence suggests that GC were less metabolically active, resulting in increased follicular fluid concentrations of amino acids and metabolic substrates, potentially protecting the oocyte from ROS. Normal expression levels of key genes linked to oocyte quality and embryo survival in I+B+ follicles support the successful lambing percentage of transferred I+B+ oocytes. In conclusion, these I+B+ oocytes develop normally, despite radical changes in follicular size and GC number induced by these combined heterozygous mutations.

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Saba Hajazimian, Masoud Maleki, Shahla Danaei Mehrabad and Alireza Isazadeh

Endometriosis is a relatively benign disease characterized by endometrial tumors and uterus stroma. Apoptosis suppression is one of the most important pathological processes of endometriosis. Recently, several studies reported that human Wharton’s jelly stem cells (hWJSCs) can inhibit growth and proliferation of various cancer cells through induction of apoptosis. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of hWJSCs conditioned medium (hWJSC-CM) and cell-free lysate (hWJSC-CL) on endometriosis cells in vitro. In the present study, effects of different concentrations of hWJSC-CM and hWJSC-CL on viability and proliferation, morphological alterations, colony formation, migration, invasion, and apoptosis of endometriosis cells were evaluated. Our results showed that hWJSC-CM and hWJSC-CL decrease viability and proliferation, colony formation, migration, and invasion, as well as increase morphological alterations and apoptosis of endometriosis cells, in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. Decreased migration and invasion of treated endometriosis cells with hWJSC-CM and hWJSC-CL may be due to decrease of MMP-2 and MMP-9 gene expression. Moreover, induction of apoptosis in treated endometriosis cells can be due to regulation of apoptosis-related genes expression, including BAX, BCL-2, SMAC, and SURVIVIN. The results of the present study suggest that hWJSC-CM and hWJSC-CL can inhibit endometriosis cells at a mild-to-moderate level through various physiological mechanisms. However, further studies on animal models are necessary to achieve more accurate results.

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Keigo Nakamura, Kazuya Kusama, Atsushi Ideta, Kazuhiko Imakawa and Masatoshi Hori

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) present in uterine lumen are involved in conceptus-endometrial interactions during the pre-implantation period. Despite numerous studies conducted on interferon tau (IFNT), a major protein of maternal recognition of pregnancy, the effect of intrauterine EVs on the endometrium during pre-implantation periods has not been well-characterized. To characterize conceptus-derived intrauterine EVs independent of IFNT, transcripts found from RNA-seq analysis in RNAs extracted from primary bovine endometrial epithelial cells (EECs) treated with cyclic day 17 (C17) EVs, pregnant day 17 (P17) EVs or IFNT were analyzed. These analyses identified 82 transcripts uniquely induced by IFNT-independent P17 EVs, of which a large number of transcripts were associated with ‘the TNF signaling pathway’ and ‘Inflammatory response’. Moreover, high expression of CD40L, a member of the TNF superfamily, and its receptor CD40 were found in P17 EVs and in EECs, respectively. Furthermore, the expression of TNF signaling pathway-related genes was up-regulated by the treatment with P17 EVs, but these increases were down-regulated by NF-kB signaling inhibitor. These findings suggest that P17 EVs could induce a pro-inflammatory response in the endometrium, independent of IFNT, to regulate uterine receptivity, facilitating conceptus implantation.

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Hang Qi, Huiyu Zhang, Xiaoya Zhao, Ya Qin, Guiling Liang, Xiaoqing He and Jian Zhang

Tubal endometriosis (tubal EM) is a subtype of endometriosis (EM) associated with fallopian tube impairments and infertility. Since the molecular mechanism underlying tubal EM is not clear, we assume that an aberrant transcriptome of fallopian tube epithelium and microenvironment changes caused by cytokines in tubal fluid are possible causes. The aim of this study was to identify potential hub mRNAs/proteins of tubal EM through integrated transcriptomic and proteomic analyses and to elucidate significant pathways, cellular functions, and interaction networks during the initiation and progression of tubal EM. We obtained human fallopian tube epithelium and tubal fluid samples from patients with and without tubal EM. Tubal epithelia were analyzed using microarray, and tubal fluid was analyzed using quantitative label-free LC-MS/MS. We identified differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) and determined common mRNAs/protein. We observed 35 commonly deregulated mRNAs/proteins, and IPA indicated that cellular movement, inflammatory response, and immune cell trafficking were significantly activated during the pathogenesis of tubal EM. We also identified acute phase response signaling pathway activation as a unique pathogenesis signature of tubal EM. Our results demonstrate that an integrated analysis of the transcriptome and proteome has the potential to reveal novel disease mechanisms at a molecular level.

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Sandra Bagés-Arnal, José M Sánchez, Beatriz Fernandez-Fuertes, Michael McDonald, Susanta K Behura, Thomas E Spencer, Trudee Fair and Pat Lonergan

In cattle, embryo transfer into the uterine horn contralateral to the corpus luteum results in a higher incidence of pregnancy loss compared to transfer into the ipsilateral horn. We have previously reported temporal changes in the endometrial transcriptome during the estrous cycle which differ between uterine horns. The objective of this study was to compare the transcriptomic response of endometrium from the ipsilateral and contralateral horns to an elongating conceptus. Cross-bred beef heifers (n = 16) were synchronized and either used to generate day 14 conceptuses following the transfer of in vitro-produced blastocysts or to obtain day 14 endometrial explants. Conceptuses were recovered on day 14 by post-mortem uterine flushing, placed individually on top of explants collected from the ipsilateral (IPSI-D14) or the contralateral (CONTRA-D14) uterine horn of cyclic heifers, and co-cultured for 6 h. The response to a conceptus was markedly different between uterine horns, with 61 and 239 differentially expressed genes (DEGs; false discovery rate <0.05) in the ipsilateral and contralateral horns, respectively, compared to their controls. Direct comparison between IPSI-D1 and CONTRA-D14 revealed 32 DEGs, including CXCL11, CXCL10, IFIT2, RSAD2 and SAMD9. Gene Ontology analysis of these 32 genes revealed ten enriched biological processes, mainly related to immune response and response to an external stimulus. These data indicate that the endometrial response to the presence of a conceptus varies between uterine horns in the same uterus and may contribute to the higher incidence of pregnancy loss following embryo transfer to the contralateral horn.

Open access

Hannah L Morgan, Isaac Ampong, Nader Eid, Charlène Rouillon, Helen R Griffiths and Adam J Watkins

The link between male diet and sperm quality has received significant investigation. However, the impact diet and dietary supplements have on the testicular environment has been examined to a lesser extent. Here, we establish the impact of a sub-optimal low protein diet (LPD) on testicular morphology, apoptosis and serum fatty acid profiles. Furthermore, we define whether supplementing a LPD with specific methyl donors abrogates any detrimental effects of the LPD. Male C57BL6 mice were fed either a control normal protein diet (NPD; 18% protein; n = 8), an isocaloric LPD (LPD; 9% protein; n = 8) or an LPD supplemented with methyl donors (MD-LPD; choline chloride, betaine, methionine, folic acid, vitamin B12; n = 8) for a minimum of 7 weeks. Analysis of male serum fatty acid profiles by gas chromatography revealed elevated levels of saturated fatty acids and lower levels of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids in MD-LPD males when compared to NPD and/or LPD males. Testes of LPD males displayed larger seminiferous tubule cross section area when compared to NPD and MD-LPD males, while MD-LPD tubules displayed a larger luminal area. Furthermore, TUNNEL staining revealed LPD males possessed a reduced number of tubules positive for apoptosis, while gene expression analysis showed MD-LPD testes displayed decreased expression of the pro-apoptotic genes Bax, Csap1 and Fas when compared to NPD males. Finally, testes from MD-LPD males displayed a reduced telomere length but increased telomerase activity. These data reveal the significance of sub-optimal nutrition for paternal metabolic and reproductive physiology.

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Paola Toschi, Emanuele Capra, Debora A Anzalone, Barbara Lazzari, Federica Turri, Flavia Pizzi, Pier A Scapolo, Alessandra Stella, John L Williams, Paolo Ajmone Marsan and Pasqualino Loi

The genotype of an organism is stable throughout its life; however, its epigenome is dynamic and can be altered in response to environmental factors, such as diet. Inheritance of acquired epigenetic modifications by the next generation occurs through the germline, although the precise mechanisms remain to be elucidated. Here, we used a sheep model to evaluate if modification of the maternal diet (CTR; control, UND: undernutrition; FA: undernutrition and folic acid supplementation) during the peri-conceptional period affects the genome-wide methylation status of the gametes of male offspring. Sperm DNA methylation, measured by Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing (RRBS), identified Differentially Methylated Regions (DMR) in offspring that experienced in utero undernutrition, both in UND (244) and FA (240), compared with CTR. Gene ontology (GO) analysis identified DMRs in categories related to sperm function, therefore we investigated whether the fertilizing capacity of the semen from the three groups differed in an in vitro fertilization assay. Spermatozoa from the undernourished groups showed lower motility and sperm chromatin structure abnormalities, represented by a higher percentage of DNA fragmentation and an increased number of immature cells, compared with CTR. While good quality blastocysts were obtained from all three groups, the proportion of embryos reaching the blastocyst stage was reduced in the UND vs CTR, an effect partially rescued by the FA treatment. The data reported here show that nutritional stress during early pregnancy leads to epigenetic modifications in the semen of the resulting offspring, the effects of which in next generation remain to be elucidated.

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Qi Zhu, Yi-Chao Dong, Lu Zhang, Xu Ma and Hong-Fei Xia

Missed abortion (MA) is a common disease in obstetrics and gynecology. More and more studies have focused on the relationship between miRNAs and pregnancy maintenance and its related diseases. The aim of this article is to explore the relationship between miRNA and MA. The expression of miR-98 were detected by in situ hybridization and real-time PCR. Cell proliferation, activity and migration were measured via Edu, MTT, and transwell assays. The target genes of miR-98 are identified by dual-luciferase activity assay. And the expression levels of target genes were determined by Western blot, real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry. miR-98 was significantly up-regulated in placental villi from over 35 years old MA patients compared with the age-matched normal pregnant women. Up-regulation of miR-98 suppressed the proliferation, activity and migration of the human trophoblast HTR-8/SVneo cell in vitro. miR-98 could bind to GDF6 and FAPP2 mRNA 3’-UTR and negatively regulate their expression. The downregulation of miR-98 promoted cell proliferation, then knockdown of GDF6 or FAPP2 inhibited miR-98-mediated cell proliferation. GDF6 and FAPP2 expression in the placental villi from MA patients were decreased compared to normal placental tissues. The expression of miR-98 in MA had an opposite relationship with the expression of GDF6 and FAPP2. Overexpression of miR-98 is associated with the occurrence of MA. miR-98 prevents proliferation, viability and migration of trophoblast cells partially through targeting GDF6 and FAPP2.