Fetal development of the mammalian testis relies on a series of interrelated cellular processes: commitment of somatic progenitor cells to Sertoli and Leydig cell fate, migration of endothelial cells and Sertoli cells, differentiation of germ cells, deposition of the basement membrane, and establishment of cell–cell contacts, including Sertoli–Sertoli and Sertoli–germ cell contacts. These processes are orchestrated by intracellular, endocrine, and paracrine signaling processes. Because of this complexity, testis development can be disrupted by a variety of environmental toxicants. The toxicity of phthalic acid esters (phthalates) on the fetal testis has been the subject of extensive research for two decades, and phthalates have become an archetypal fetal testis toxicant. Phthalates disrupt the seminiferous cord formation and maturation, Sertoli cell function, biosynthesis of testosterone in Leydig cells, and impair germ cell survival and development, producing characteristic multinucleated germ cells. However, the mechanisms responsible for these effects are not fully understood. This review describes current knowledge of the adverse effects of phthalates on the fetal testis and their associated windows of sensitivity, and compares and contrasts the mechanisms by which toxicants of current interest, bisphenol A and its replacements, analgesics, and perfluorinated alkyl substances, alter testicular developmental processes. Working toward a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms responsible for phthalate toxicity will be critical for understanding the long-term impacts of environmental chemicals and pharmaceuticals on human reproductive health.
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Kuan-Hao Tsui, Peng-Hui Wang, Li-Te Lin, and Chia-Jung Li
Because ovarian granulosa cells are essential for oocyte maturation and development, we validated human granulosa HO23 cells to evaluate the ability of the DHEA to prevent cell death after starvation. The present study was aimed to investigate whether DHEA could protect against starvation-induced apoptosis and necroptosis in human oocyte granulosa HO23 cells. The starvation was induced by treatment of serum-free (SF) medium for 4 h in vitro. Starvation-induced mitochondrial depolarization, cytochrome c release and caspase-3 activation were largely prevented by DHEA in HO23 cells. We found that treatment with DHEA can restore starvation-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and mitochondrial membrane potential imbalance. In addition, treatment of DHEA prevents cell death via upregulation of cytochrome c and downregulation of BAX in mitochondria. Most importantly, DHEA is ameliorated to mitochondrial function mediated through the decrease in mitochondrial ROS, maintained mitochondrial morphology, and enhancing the ability of cell proliferation and ROS scavenging. Our present data strongly indicate that DHEA reduces programmed cell death (apoptosis and necroptosis) in granulosa HO23 cells through multiple interactions with the mitochondrion-dependent programmed cell death pathway. Taken together, our data suggest that the presence of DHEA could be beneficial to protect human oocyte granulosa HO23 cells under in vitro culture conditions during various assisted reproductive technology (ART) programs.
Free Chinese abstract: A Chinese translation of this abstract is freely available at http://www.reproduction-online.org/content/154/2/101/suppl/DC1
Hui Li, Qianhui Huang, Yu Liu, and Lana X Garmire
Human placenta is a complex and heterogeneous organ interfacing between the mother and the fetus that supports fetal development. Alterations to placental structural components are associated with various pregnancy complications. To reveal the heterogeneity among various placenta cell types in normal and diseased placentas, as well as elucidate molecular interactions within a population of placental cells, a new genomics technology called single cell RNA-seq (or scRNA-seq) has been employed in the last couple of years. Here we review the principles of scRNA-seq technology, and summarize the recent human placenta studies at scRNA-seq level across gestational ages as well as in pregnancy complications, such as preterm birth and preeclampsia. We list the computational analysis platforms and resources available for the public use. Lastly, we discuss the future areas of interest for placenta single cell studies, as well as the data analytics needed to accomplish them.
Jia-Wei Shi, Hui-Li Yang, Zhen-Zhen Lai, Hui-Hui Shen, Xue-Yun Qin, Xue-Min Qiu, Yan Wang, Jiang-Nan Wu, and Ming-Qing Li
The survival and development of a semi-allogeneic fetus during pregnancy require the involvement of decidual stromal cells (DSCs), a series of cytokines and immune cells. Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) is a low molecular weight peptide hormone with similar metabolic activity and structural characteristics of proinsulin, which exerts its biological effects by binding with its receptor. Emerging evidence has shown that IGF1 is expressed at the maternal–fetal interface, but its special role in establishment and maintenance of pregnancy is largely unknown. Here, we found that the expression of IGF1 in the decidua was significantly higher than that in the endometrium. Additionally, decidua from women with normal pregnancy had high levels of IGF1 compared with that from women with unexplained recurrent spontaneous miscarriage. Estrogen and progesterone led to the increase of IGF1 in DSCs through upregulating the expression of WISP2. Recombinant IGF1 or DSCs-derived IGF1 increased the survival, reduced the apoptosis of DSCs, and downregulated the cytotoxicity of decidual NK cells (dNK) through interaction with IGF1R. These data suggest that estrogen and progesterone stimulate the growth of DSCs and impair the cytotoxicity of dNK possibly by the WISP2/IGF1 signaling pathway.
Xiu Shi, Wei Xu, Hui-Hua Dai, Ying Sun, and Xiu-Li Wang
To compare the expression patterns of steroid receptor coactivators (SRCs) and steroid-induced stromal cell-derived factor 1 (CXCL12 (SDF1)) in normal and ectopic endometrium and to explore the roles of NCOA1 (SRC1) and NCOA2 (SRC2) in the steroid-induced CXCL12 expression in normal and ectopic endometrial stromal cells (ESCs). The NCOA1, NCOA2, NCOA3 (SRC3), and CXCL12 (SDF1)α mRNA levels in normal and ectopic endometrium were analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR. Steroid-induced CXCL12 expression was detected by the ELISA method and the chemotactic activity of conditioned supernatant to monocyte was assessed by the Boyden chamber method before and after the silencing of NCOA1 or NCOA2 with siRNA in normal and ectopic ESCs. The expression of NCOA1 and CXCL12 in ectopic endometrium was significantly greater than that in normal endometrium in the secretory phase. Progesterone (P4) was able to significantly inhibit estradiol (E2)-stimulated CXCL12 expression in normal and ectopic ESCs. The inhibitory rate of P4 in ectopic ESCs at 72 and 96 h was significantly lower than that in normal ESCs. Silencing of NCOA1 but not NCOA2 significantly reduced the E2-induced CXCL12 expression in normal and ectopic ESCs. The ability of P4 to inhibit E2-induced CXCL12 expression and monocyte chemotaxis in normal and ectopic ESCs was significantly attenuated when NCOA2 was silenced. NCOA1 plays a necessary role in E2-induced CXCL12 expression and NCOA2 is required for P4 to inhibit the E2-induced CXCL12 production in normal and ectopic endometrium.
Hui Li, Yu-Han Meng, Wen-Qing Shang, Li-Bing Liu, Xuan Chen, Min-Min Yuan, Li-Ping Jin, Ming-Qing Li, and Da-Jin Li
Chemokine CCL24, acting through receptor CCR3, is a potent chemoattractant for eosinophil in allergic diseases and parasitic infections. We recently reported that CCL24 and CCR3 are co-expressed by trophoblasts in human early pregnant uterus. Here we prove with evidence that steroid hormones estradiol (E), progesterone (P), and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), as well as decidual stromal cells (DSCs) could regulate the expression of CCL24 and CCR3 of trophoblasts. We further investigate how trophoblast-derived CCL24 mediates the function of trophoblasts in vitro, and conclude that CCL24/CCR3 promotes the proliferation, viability and invasiveness of trophoblasts. In addition, analysis of the downstream signaling pathways of CCL24/CCR3 show that extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathways may contribute to the proliferation, viability and invasiveness of trophoblasts by activating intracellular molecules Ki67 and matrix metallopeptidase 9 (MMP9). However, we did not observe any inhibitory effect on trophoblasts when blocking c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) or p38 pathways. In conclusion, our data suggests that trophoblast-derived CCL24 at the maternal-fetal interface promotes trophoblasts cell growth and invasiveness by ERK1/2 and PI3K pathways. Meanwhile, pregnancy-related hormones (P and hCG), as well as DSCs could up-regulate CCL24/CCR3 expression in trophoblasts, which may indirectly influence the biological functions of trophoblasts. Thus, our results provide a possible explanation for the growth and invasion of trophoblasts in human embryo implantation.
Hui-Li Yang, Wen-Jie Zhou, Kai-Kai Chang, Jie Mei, Li-Qing Huang, Ming-Yan Wang, Yi Meng, Si-Yao Ha, Da-Jin Li, and Ming-Qing Li
The dysfunction of NK cells in women with endometriosis (EMS) contributes to the immune escape of menstrual endometrial fragments refluxed into the peritoneal cavity. The reciprocal communications between endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) and lymphocytes facilitate the development of EMS. However, the mechanism of these communications on cytotoxicity of natural killer (NK) cells in endometriotic milieus is still largely unknown. To imitate the local immune microenvironment, the co-culture systems of ESCs from patients with EMS and monocyte-derived macrophages or of ESCs, macrophages and NK cells were constructed. The cytokine levels in the co-culture unit were evaluated by ELISA. The expression of functional molecules in NK cells was detected by flow cytometry (FCM). The NK cell behaviors in vitro were analyzed by cell counting kit-8 and cytotoxic activation assays. After incubation with ESCs and macrophages, the expression of CD16, NKG2D, perforin and IFN-γ, viability and cytotoxicity of NK cells were significantly downregulated. The secretion of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-10 and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β in the co-culture system of ESCs and macrophages was increased. Exposure with anti-IL-10 receptor β neutralizing antibody (αhIL-10Rβ) or αTGF-β could partly reverse these effects of ESCs and macrophages on NK cells in vitro. These results suggest that the interaction between macrophages and ESCs downregulates cytotoxicity of NK cells possibly by stimulating the secretion of IL-10 and TGF-β, and may further trigger the immune escape of ectopic fragments and promote the occurrence and the development of EMS.
Jing Xue, Hui Zhang, Wei Liu, Ming Liu, Min Shi, Zeqing Wen, and Changzhong Li
Adenomyosis is a finding that is associated with dysmenorrhea and heavy menstrual bleeding, associated with PI3K/AKT signaling overactivity. To investigate the effect of metformin on the growth of eutopic endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) from patients with adenomyosis and to explore the involvement of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and PI3K/AKT pathways. Primary cultures of human ESCs were derived from normal endometrium (normal endometrial stromal cells (N-ESCs)) and adenomyotic eutopic endometrium (adenomyotic endometrial stroma cells (A-ESCs)). Expression of AMPK was determined using immunocytochemistry and western blot analysis. 3-(4, 5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assays were used to determine the effects of metformin and compound C on ESCs and also to detect growth and proliferation of ESCs. AMPK and PI3K/AKT signaling was determined by western blotting. A-ECSs exhibited greater AMPK expression than N-ESCs. Metformin inhibited proliferation of ESCs in a concentration-dependent manner. The IC50 was 2.45 mmol/l for A-ESCs and 7.87 mmol/l for N-ESCs. Metformin increased AMPK activation levels (p-AMPK/AMPK) by 2.0±0.3-fold in A-ESCs, 2.3-fold in A-ESCs from the secretory phase, and 1.6-fold in the proliferation phase. The average reduction ratio of 17β-estradiol on A-ESCs was 2.1±0.8-fold in proliferative phase and 2.5±0.5-fold in secretory phase relative to the equivalent groups not treated with 17β-estradiol. The inhibitory effects of metformin on AKT activation (p-AKT/AKT) were more pronounced in A-ESCs from the secretory phase (3.2-fold inhibition vs control) than in those from the proliferation phase (2.3-fold inhibition vs control). Compound C, a selective AMPK inhibitor, abolished the effects of metformin on cell growth and PI3K/AKT signaling. Metformin inhibits cell growth via AMPK activation and subsequent inhibition of PI3K/AKT signaling in A-ESCs, particularly during the secretory phase, suggesting a greater effect of metformin on A-ESCs from secretory phase.
Wen-Hui Zhou, Lin Dong, Mei-Rong Du, Xiao-Yong Zhu, and Da-Jin Li
Immune regulation during pregnancy is complex, and thus an optimal therapy for pregnancy complications is always a big challenge to reproductive medicine. Cyclosporin A (CsA), a potent immunosuppressant, prevents rejection of allografts by hosts, but little is known about the modulating effect of CsA on the materno-fetal relationship. Here, pregnant CBA/J females mated with DBA/2 males as an abortion-prone model were administered with CsA on day 4.5 of gestation, and the pregnant CBA/J females mated with BALB/c males were established as successful pregnancy control. It was demonstrated that administration of CsA at the window of implantation significantly up-regulated the expression of CTLA-4, while down-regulating the levels of CD80, CD86, and CD28 at the materno-fetal interface in the CBA/J×DBA/2 abortion-prone matings, and the embryo resorption rate of the abortion-prone matings reduced significantly after CsA treatment, implying that modulation of costimulatory molecule expression by CsA might contribute to preventing the fetus from maternal immune attack. In addition, treatment with CsA induced enhanced growth and reduced cell apoptosis of the murine trophoblast cells. Together, these findings indicate that CsA has a beneficial effect on the materno-fetal interface in abortion-prone matings, leading to a pregnancy outcome improvement, which might provide new therapeutics for spontaneous pregnancy wastage.
Shangang Li, Xuejin Chen, Zhenfu Fang, Jianjun Shi, and Hui Z Sheng
Somatic cell nuclear transfer offers new opportunities for genetic engineering and genome preservation in mammalian animal species. We show that, in addition to cumulus cells, cultured adult rabbit fibroblasts are also capable of supporting full-term development after nuclear transfer. Nuclear transfer embryos constructed using serum-starved fibroblasts showed a significantly higher developmental rate than non-starved fibroblasts through preimplantation stages. A total of 467 nuclear transfer embryos were transferred into the oviducts of pseudo pregnant mothers. Eight of the 20 surrogate rabbits carried the pregnancy to term and five of them gave birth naturally to a total of nine rabbits. However, all of the offspring died before postnatal day 10. A Caesarean section was performed on three surrogates, giving birth to a total of five rabbits, three of them survived and grew into healthy adults. DNA analyses confirmed that these rabbits were genetically identical to the donor male rabbit. The present study demonstrates that rabbits can be cloned from adult fibroblasts after culture.