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Hong-Jie Yuan, Zhi-Bin Li, Xin-Yue Zhao, Guang-Yi Sun, Guo-Liang Wang, Ying-Qi Zhao, Min Zhang, and Jing-He Tan

Mechanisms by which female stress and particularly glucocorticoids impair oocyte competence are largely unclear. Although one study demonstrated that glucocorticoids triggered apoptosis in ovarian cells and oocytes by activating the FasL/Fas system, other studies suggested that they might induce apoptosis through activating other signaling pathways as well. In this study, both in vivo and in vitro experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that glucocorticoids might trigger apoptosis in oocytes and ovarian cells through activating the TNF-α system. The results showed that cortisol injection of female mice (1.) impaired oocyte developmental potential and mitochondrial membrane potential with increased oxidative stress; (2.) induced apoptosis in mural granulosa cells (MGCs) with increased oxidative stress in the ovary; and (3.) activated the TNF-α system in both ovaries and oocytes. Culture with corticosterone induced apoptosis and activated the TNF-α system in MGCs. Knockdown or knockout of TNF-α significantly ameliorated the pro-apoptotic effects of glucocorticoids on oocytes and MGCs. However, culture with corticosterone downregulated TNF-α expression significantly in oviductal epithelial cells. Together, the results demonstrated that glucocorticoids impaired oocyte competence and triggered apoptosis in ovarian cells through activating the TNF-α system and that the effect of glucocorticoids on TNF-α expression might vary between cell types.

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Shi-Yu An, Zi-Fei Liu, El-Samahy M A, Ming-Tian Deng, Xiao-Xiao Gao, Ya-Xu Liang, Chen-Bo Shi, Zhi-Hai Lei, Feng Wang, and Guo-Min Zhang

Long ncRNAs regulate a complex array of fundamental biological processes, while its molecular regulatory mechanism in Leydig cells (LCs) remains unclear. In the present study, we established the lncRNA LOC102176306/miR-1197-3p/peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1 alpha (PPARGC1A) regulatory network by bioinformatic prediction, and investigated its roles in goat LCs. We found that lncRNA LOC102176306 could efficiently bind to miR-1197-3p and regulate PPARGC1A expression in goat LCs. Downregulation of lncRNA LOC102176306 significantly supressed testosterone (T) synthesis and ATP production, decreased the activities of antioxidant enzymes and mitochondrial complex I and complex III, caused the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, and inhibited the proliferation of goat LCs by decreasing PPARGC1A expression, while these effects could be restored by miR-1197-3p inhibitor treatment. In addition, miR-1197-3p mimics treatment significantly alleviated the positive effects of lncRNA LOC102176306 overexpression on T and ATP production, antioxidant capacity and proliferation of goat LCs. Taken together, lncRNA LOC102176306 functioned as a sponge for miR-1197-3p to maintain PPARGC1A expression, thereby affecting the steroidogenesis, cell proliferation and oxidative stress of goat LCs. These findings extend our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of T synthesis, cell proliferation and oxidative stress of LCs.

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Qiu-Chan Qu, Hui-Hui Shen, Cheng-Jie Wang, Xin-Yan Zhang, Jiang-Nan Wu, Hang-Cheng Lu, Xue-Min Qiu, Jia-Yi Ding, Xiao-Fang Tan, Li-Bing Liu, and Ming-Qing Li

A successful pregnancy requires sufficient decidualization of endometrial stromal cells (ESCs). CD82, a metastasis suppressor, is a critical regulator for trophoblast invasion but the effect in decidualization was largely unknown. Here we reported that there was a high level of CD82 in DSC by the immunohistochemistry staining and flow cytometer analysis. Stimulation with prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) elevated the expression of CD82 in ESCs. In contrast, celecoxib, a selective COX-2 inhibitor, significantly downregulated the expression of CD82 in decidual stromal cells (DSCs). Bioinformatics analysis and further research showed that recombinant human interleukin (IL)-1β protein (rhIL-1β) upregulated CD82 in ESCs. Of note, blocking IL-1β signaling with anti-human IL-1β neutralizing antibody could reverse the stimulatory effect of PGE2 on CD82 in ESCs. Silencing CD82 resulted in the decease of the decidualization markers PRL and IGFBP1 mRNA levels in DSCs. More importantly, we observed rhIL-1β also upregulated the expression of COX-2, and the upregulation of PRL and IGFBP1 induced by rhIL-1β could be abolished by celecoxib in ESCs or CD82 deficiency in DSCs. This study suggests that CD82 should be a novel promotor for decidualization under a positive regulation of the COX-2/PGE2/IL-1β positive feedback loop.

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Chen Yang, Yue Li, Hai-Yang Pan, Meng-Yuan Li, Ji-Min Pan, Si-Ting Chen, Hai-Yi Zhang, Zhen-Shan Yang, Hai-Ting Dou, and Zeng-Ming Yang

There are around 300 million adolescent pregnancies worldwide, accounting for 11% of all births worldwide. Accumulating evidence demonstrates that many adverse perinatal outcomes are associated with adolescent pregnancies. However, how and why these abnormalities occur remain to be defined. In this study, pregnancy at different stages was compared between 25- and 30- day-old and mature female mice. We found that the litter size of adolescent pregnancy is significantly decreased from F1 to F3 generations compared to mature pregnancy. On days 8 and 12 of pregnancy, multiple abnormalities in decidual and placental development appear in F3 adolescent pregnancy. On days 5 and 8, uterine endoplasmic reticulum stress is dysregulated in F3 adolescent pregnancy. Embryo implantation and decidualization are also compromised in adolescent pregnancy. Many genes are abnormally expressed in adolescent estrous uteri. The abnormal endocrine environment and abnormal implantation from uterine immaturity may result in multiple pregnancy failures in adolescent pregnancy. The aim of this study is to shed light on human adolescent pregnancy.

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Hui-Hui Shen, Cheng-Jie Wang, Xin-Yan Zhang, Yan-Ran Sheng, Shao-Liang Yang, Zi-Meng Zheng, Jia-Lu Shi, Xue-Min Qiu, Feng Xie, and Ming-Qing Li

Heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1, encoded by the HMOX1 gene) is the rate-limiting enzyme that catalyzes heme degradation, and it has been reported to exert antioxidative effects. Recently, decidualization has been reported to confer resistance to environmental stress signals, protecting against oxidative stress. However, the effects and regulatory mechanism of HO-1 in decidual stromal cells (DSCs) during early pregnancy remain unknown. Here, we verified that the levels of HO-1 and heme in DSCs are increased compared with those in endometrial stromal cells. Additionally, the upregulation of HIF1A expression led to increased HMOX1 expression in DSCs possibly via nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor (encoded by the NFE2L2 gene). However, addition of the competitive HO-1 inhibitor zinc protoporphyrin IX resulted in an increase in HIF1A expression. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) induced the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), decreased the cell viability of DSCs in vitro, and upregulated the level of heme. As an HO-1 inducer, cobalt protoporphyrin IX decreased ROS production and significantly reversed the inhibitory effect of H2O2 on cell viability. More importantly, patients with unexplained spontaneous abortion had low levels of HO-1 that were insufficient to protect against oxidative stress. This study suggests that the upregulation of HO-1 expression via HIF1A protects DSCs against excessive heme-mediated oxidative stress. Furthermore, the excessive oxidative stress injury and impaired viability of DSCs associated with decreased HO-1 expression should be associated with the occurrence and/or development of spontaneous abortion.

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Li Nie, Li-xue Zhang, Yi-cheng Wang, Yun Long, Yong-dan Ma, Lin-chuan Liao, Xin-hua Dai, Zhi-hui Cui, Huan Liu, Zhao-qi Wang, Zi-yang Ma, Dong-zhi Yuan, and Li-min Yue

Uterine receptivity to the embryo is crucial for successful implantation. The establishment of uterine receptivity requires a large amount of energy, and abnormal energy regulation causes implantation failure. Glucose metabolism in the endometrium is tissue specific. Glucose is largely stored in the form of glycogen, which is the main energy source for the endometrium. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an important energy-sensing molecule, is a key player in the regulation of glucose metabolism and its regulation is also tissue specific. However, the mechanism of energy regulation in the endometrium for the establishment of uterine receptivity remains to be elucidated. In this study, we aimed to investigate the energy regulation mechanism of mouse uterine receptivity and its significance in embryo implantation. The results showed that the AMPK, p-AMPK, glycogen synthase 1, and glycogen phosphorylase M levels and the glycogen content in mouse endometrial epithelium varied in a periodic manner under regulation by the ovarian hormone. Specifically, progesterone significantly activated AMPK, promoted glycogenolysis, and upregulated glycogen phosphorylase M expression. AMPK regulated glycogen phosphorylase M expression and promoted glycogenolysis. AMPK was also found to be activated by changes in the energy or glycogen of the endometrial epithelial cells. The inhibition of AMPK activity or glycogenolysis altered the uterine receptivity markers during the window of implantation and ultimately interfered with implantation. In summary, consistency and synchronization of AMPK and glycogen metabolism constitute the core regulatory mechanism in mouse endometrial epithelial cells involved in the establishment of uterine receptivity.