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Michael J Bertoldo, Valentina Rodriguez Paris, Debra A Gook, Melissa C Edwards, Katherine Wu, Cai Jun Jean Liang, Maria B Marinova, Lindsay E Wu, Kirsty A Walters, and Robert B Gilchrist

Ovarian tissue cryopreservation and future transplantation is the only strategy to preserve the fertility of young female adolescent and prepubertal patients. The primary challenge to ovarian graft longevity is the substantial loss of primordial follicles during the period of ischaemia post-transplantation. Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), a precursor of the essential metabolite NAD+, is known to reduce ischaemic damage. Therefore, the objective of the current study was to assess the impact of short- and long-term NMN administration on follicle number and health following ovarian tissue transplantation. Hemi-ovaries from C57Bl6 mice (n = 8–12/group) were transplanted under the kidney capsule of bilaterally ovariectomised severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice. Recipient mice were administered either normal drinking water or water supplemented with NMN (2 g/L) for either 14 or 56 days. At the end of each treatment period, ovarian transplants were collected. There was no effect of NMN on the resumption of oestrous or length of oestrous cycles. Transplantation significantly reduced the total number of follicles with the greatest impact observed at the primordial follicle stage. We report that NMN did not prevent this loss. While NMN did not significantly impact the proportion of apoptotic follicles, NMN normalised PCNA expression at the primordial and intermediate stages but not at later stages. In conclusion, NMN administration did not prevent ovarian follicle loss under the conditions of this study.

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Afsaneh Khoshkerdar, Ece Eryasar, Hannah L Morgan, and Adam J Watkins

Pregnancy represents a time of dramatic physiological adaptation by the mother in which dramatic changes in maternal cardiovascular, metabolic and immune systems occur. These adaptations, initiated from the earliest stages of gestation, are crucial for the implantation and continued development of the embryo, the establishment of the placenta and the growth of the fetus. Impairments in the normal adaptation of the maternal cardiovascular, metabolic and immune systems underlie the aetiology of gestational disorders such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Studies have shown that the development of such gestational complications not only affects the well-being of the mother but also the short- and long-term health of her offspring. While the connection between maternal lifestyle factors and the development of gestational disorders such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes has been studied in detail, the link between a father’s lifestyle and the well-being of the mother during pregnancy has received less attention. In this review we will explore the evidence that a range of paternal factors, such as age and diet, at the time of conception can not only affect the development of his offspring, but also the well-being of the mother during pregnancy. In addition, we will examine the sperm- and seminal plasma-specific mechanisms that connect the health of the father with that of the mother and his offspring.

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K Grace Foley, Michele T Pritchard, and Francesca E Duncan

Inflammaging is a state of chronic, low-grade inflammation associated with aging which contributes to age-related diseases. Recently, an age-associated increase in inflammation has been documented in the mammalian ovary, which is accompanied by a shift in the immune cell profile. In this Point of View article, we consider a unique population of macrophage-derived multinucleated giant cells, found in reproductively old mouse ovaries, as potential markers or functional drivers of inflammation in ovarian aging.

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Leelabati Biswas, Katarzyna Tyc, Warif El Yakoubi, Katie Morgan, Jinchuan Xing, and Karen Schindler

Idiopathic or ‘unexplained’ infertility represents as many as 30% of infertility cases worldwide. Conception, implantation, and term delivery of developmentally healthy infants require chromosomally normal (euploid) eggs and sperm. The crux of euploid egg production is error-free meiosis. Pathologic genetic variants dysregulate meiotic processes that occur during prophase I, meiotic resumption, chromosome segregation, and in cell cycle regulation. This dysregulation can result in chromosomally abnormal (aneuploid) eggs. In turn, egg aneuploidy leads to a broad range of clinical infertility phenotypes, including primary ovarian insufficiency and early menopause, egg fertilization failure and embryonic developmental arrest, or recurrent pregnancy loss. Therefore, maternal genetic variants are emerging as infertility biomarkers, which could allow informed reproductive decision-making. Here, we select and deeply examine human genetic variants that likely cause dysregulation of critical meiotic processes in 14 female infertility-associated genes: SYCP3, SYCE1, TRIP13, PSMC3IP, DMC1, MCM8, MCM9, STAG3, PATL2, TUBB8, CEP120, AURKB, AURKC, andWEE2. We discuss the function of each gene in meiosis, explore genotype-phenotype relationships, and delineate the frequencies of infertility-associated variants.

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C H K Hughes, A Rogus, E K Inskeep, and J L Pate

Progesterone, which is secreted from the corpus luteum, is indispensable for the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy. The orphan nuclear receptor subfamily 5 group A member 2 (NR5A2) is a regulator of murine luteinization, but neither its regulation nor its role in the fully differentiated, mature corpus luteum (CL) have been described. Therefore, the goal of this study was to profile abundance and investigate the regulation and functions of NR5A2 in the bovine CL. Treatment of cultured luteal steroidogenic cells with a pharmacological inhibitor of NR5A2 decreased progesterone production and tended to decrease abundance of HSD3B1 mRNA. Luteal NR5A2 mRNA increased and NR5A2 protein tended to increase between days 4 and 6 of the estrous cycle, coincident with increased steroidogenic capacity of the CL. Luteal NR5A2 mRNA decreased by 8 h after prostaglandin (PG) F2A injection. During early pregnancy, luteal NR5A2 mRNA was less on days 20 and 23 compared to day 14, but protein abundance did not change. Neither 1 nor 10 ng/mL interferon tau (IFNT) altered NR5A2 abundance in cultured luteal steroidogenic cells, but 10 ng/mL PGF2A decreased NR5A2. Because of discrepancies between mRNA and protein abundance of NR5A2, regulation by miRNA that changed during early pregnancy was investigated. miR-27b-3p, miR-432-5p, and miR-369-3p mimics decreased NR5A2 protein abundance and miR-369-3p also inhibited progesterone production. Overall, the results of this study show that NR5A2 may be maintained by miRNA during early pregnancy and may be an important regulator of luteal progesterone production.

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Daqian Dong, Jinmeng Yang, Yining Chen, Guofan Peng, Heran Cao, Huihui Gao, Tianqi Jin, Fangxia Yang, and Wuzi Dong

Epididymal specific proteins play a crucial role in sperm maturation. Some of the post-translational modified proteins are transported from the caput to the cauda of the epididymis through exosomes which regulate the function of sperm in cauda epididymis. Rat beta-galactosidase-1-like protein 4 (GLB1L4) expressed specifically in the caput epididymis, localizes on the sperm; however, the regulatory ways in which GLB1L4 protein interacts with sperm to maintain sperm function are unclear. In this study, knockdown of rat GLB1L4 could inhibit in vitro capacitation of sperm in cauda epididymis and reduce the fertility of the male rats by injection of special lentivirus-shRNA into caput epididymis. Moreover, a considerable proportion of GLB1L4 proteins from rat caput epididymis were loaded on exosomes. The exosomes loaded GLB1L4 from in vitro primary rat caput epididymal epithelial cells could bind with spermatozoa in cauda epididymis. Further, the palmitoylation status of cysteine residues at the 12th and 15th sites of the protein molecule could significantly affect cellular localization of GLB1L4 protein. It was identified that most of GLB1L4 was palmitoylated in the presence of exosomes from primary caput epididymal cells and the level of palmitoylated GLB1L4 in the exosomes could be inhibited by 2-bromopalmitate (2-BP). These results suggested that the palmitoylated GLB1L4 from rat caput epididymis could be transported to the cauda epididymis to regulate the sperm function by exosomes.

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Vanessa Caroline Fioravante, Alana Rezende Godoi, Victória Mokarzel de Barros Camargo, Renata Steffany do Nascimento, Patricia Fernanda Felipe Pinheiro, and Francisco Eduardo Martinez

Parental ethanol consumption can influence the offspring phenotype. In this way, we analyzed the impairments of maternal and paternal high ethanol consumption during postpuberty on the physical development, feeding pattern, puberty onset and reproductive function of ethanol-naive offspring to birth to adulthood. Female and male UChB rats (voluntary 10%, v/v ethanol consumer) were divided into a control group (C) and an ethanol exposed group (E) from 65 to 80 days of age. The C and E were mated at 100 days. The maternal parameters and offspring development and reproduction parameters were monitored. We observed reduced feeding intake and body weight in the dams of E group throughout gestation and lactation period. Delay in physical development, lower body weight and altered feeding pattern were observed in female and male offspring of E group. In addition, the puberty onset was delayed in both sexes, with lower testosterone levels in the juvenile and pubertal males. There was a prolongation on the estrous and proestrus phases in females from E but the estrous cycle duration did not change between groups. Ovary and uterus weight were reduced in pubertal and adult females from E group. Reduced epididymis and seminal vesicle weight, increased sperm abnormalities, decrease in the daily sperm production and accelerated epididymal transit time were observed in E males. The high maternal and paternal ethanol use on postpuberty impairs the parameters of ethanol-naive offspring inducing alteration on development and reproduction.

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Harleen Kaur, Alison S Care, Rebecca L Wilson, Sandra G Piltz, Paul Q Thomas, Beverly S Muhlhausler, Claire T Roberts, and Kathryn L Gatford

Animal models are needed to develop interventions to prevent or treat intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Foetal growth rates and effects of in utero exposures differ between sexes, but little is known about sex-specific effects of increasing litter size. We established a murine IUGR model using pregnancies generated by multiple embryo transfers, and evaluated sex-specific responses to increasing litter size. CBAF1 embryos were collected at gestation day 0.5 (GD0.5) and 6, 8, 10 or 12 embryos were transferred into each uterine horn of pseudopregnant female CD1 mice (n = 32). Foetal and placental outcomes were measured at GD18.5. In the main experiment, foetuses were genotyped (Sry) for analysis of sex-specific outcomes. The number of implantation sites (P = 0.033) and litter size (number of foetuses, P = 0.008) correlated positively with the number of embryos transferred, while placental weight correlated negatively with litter size (both P < 0.01). The relationship between viable litter size and foetal weight differed between sexes (interaction P = 0.002), such that foetal weights of males (P = 0.002), but not females (P = 0.233), correlated negatively with litter size. Placental weight decreased with increasing litter size (P < 0.001) and was lower in females than males (P = 0.020). Our results suggest that male foetuses grow as fast as permitted by nutrient supply, whereas the female maintains placental reserve capacity. This strategy reflecting sex-specific gene expression is likely to place the male foetus at greater risk of death in the event of a ‘second hit’.

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Ejimedo Madogwe, Yasmin Schuermann, Dayananda Siddappa, Vilceu Bordignon, Philippe P Roux, and Raj Duggavathi


Abolition of the LH-induced ERK1/2 pathway leads to dramatic changes in gene expression in granulosa cells, subsequently abrogating ovulation. Here we explored whether sustained ERK1/2 signaling beyond immediate-early hours of the LH surge is important for ovulation in mice. First, we examined the effect of inhibition of ERK1/2 activity at 4 h after hCG stimulation on ovulation in superovulated immature mice. Treatment with the ERK1/2 pathway inhibitor PD0325901 at 4 h post-hCG disrupted follicular rupture without altering cumulus expansion, oocyte meiotic maturation and luteinization. Profiling the expression pattern of genes of the RSK family of ERK1/2 signal mediators revealed that RSK3, but not other isoforms, was induced by hCG treatment. Further, RSK3-knockout mice were sub-fertile with reduced ovulation rate and smaller litter size compared to WT mice. Given that PD0325901 inhibits all mediators of ERK1/2 signaling, we chose to evaluate the gene expression underlying deficient follicular rupture in ERK1/2 inhibited mice. We found that inhibition of ERK1/2 signaling at 4 h post-hCG resulted in an imbalance in the expression of genes involved in extracellular matrix degradation and leukocyte infiltration necessary for follicular rupture. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that sustained ERK1/2 signaling during ovulation is not required for cumulus expansion, oocyte meiotic maturation and luteinization, but is required for follicular rupture.