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  • Abstract: decidualization x
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  • Abstract: human chorionic gonadotropin x
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Open access

Patricia Grasa, Heidy Kaune and Suzannah A Williams

Female mice generating oocytes lacking complex N- and O-glycans (double mutants (DM)) produce only one small litter before undergoing premature ovarian failure (POF) by 3 months. Here we investigate the basis of the small litter by evaluating ovulation rate and embryo development in DM (Mgat1 F/F C1galt1 F/F:ZP3Cre) and Control (Mgat1 F/F C1galt1 F/F) females. Surprisingly, DM ovulation rate was normal at 6 weeks, but declined dramatically by 9 weeks. In vitro development of zygotes to blastocysts was equivalent to Controls although all embryos from DM females lacked a normal zona pellucida (ZP) and ∼30% lacked a ZP entirely. In contrast, in vivo preimplantation development resulted in less embryos recovered from DM females compared with Controls at 3.5 days post coitum (dpc) (3.2±1.3 vs 7.0±0.6). Furthermore, only 45% of mated DM females contained embryos at 3.5 dpc. Of the preimplantation embryos collected from DM females, approximately half were morulae unlike Controls where the majority were blastocysts, indicating delayed embryo development in DM females. Post-implantation development in DM females was analysed to determine whether delayed preimplantation development affected subsequent development. In DM females at 5.5 dpc, only ∼40% of embryos found at 3.5 dpc had implanted. However, at 6.5 dpc, implantation sites in DM females corresponded to embryo numbers at 3.5 dpc indicating delayed implantation. At 9.5 dpc, the number of decidua corresponded to embryo numbers 6 days earlier indicating that all implanted embryos progress to midgestation. Therefore, a lack of complex N- and O-glycans in oocytes during development impairs early embryo development and viability in vivo leading to delayed implantation and a small litter.

Open access

L P Sepulveda-Rincon, N Islam, P Marsters, B K Campbell, N Beaujean and W E Maalouf

It has been suggested that first embryo cleavage can be related with the embryonic–abembryonic axis at blastocyst stage in mice. Thus, cells of the 2-cell embryo might be already biased to form the inner cell mass or trophectoderm. This study was conducted to observe the possible effects of embryo biopsy on cell allocation patterns during embryo preimplantation in two different mouse strains and the effects of these patterns on further development. First, one blastomere of the 2-cell embryo was injected with a lipophilic tracer and cell allocation patterns were observed at blastocyst stage. Blastocysts were classified into orthogonal, deviant or random pattern. For the first experiment, embryos were biopsied at 8-cell stage and total cell counts (TCC) were annotated. Furthermore, non-biopsied blastocysts were transferred into foster mothers. Then, pups and their organs were weighed two weeks after birth. Random pattern was significantly recurrent (≈60%), against orthogonal (<22%) and deviant (<22%) patterns among groups. These patterns were not affected by biopsy procedure. However, TCC on deviant embryos were reduced after biopsy. Moreover, no differences were found between patterns for implantation rates, litter size, live offspring and organ weights (lungs, liver, pancreas and spleen). However, deviant pups presented heavier hearts and orthogonal pups presented lighter kidneys among the group. In conclusion, these results suggest that single blastomere removal does not disturb cell allocation patterns during pre-implantation. Nonetheless, the results suggest that embryos following different cell allocation patterns present different coping mechanisms against in vitro manipulations and further development might be altered.

Open access

Y Li, Michelle K Y Seah and C O'Neill

Reprogramming epigenetic modifications to cytosine is required for normal embryo development. We used improved immunolocalization techniques to simultaneously map global changes in the levels of 5′-methylcytosine (5meC) and 5′-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) in each cell of the embryo from fertilization through the first rounds of cellular differentiation. The male and female pronuclei of the zygote showed similar staining levels, and these remained elevated over the next three cell cycles. The inner cells of the morula showed a progressive reduction in global levels of both 5meC and 5hmC and further losses occurred in the pluripotent inner cell mass (ICM) of the blastocyst. This was accompanied by undetectable levels of DNA methyltransferase of each class in the nuclei of the ICM, while DNA methyltransferase 3B was elevated in the hypermethylated nuclei of the trophectoderm (TE). Segregation of the ICM into hypoblast and epiblast was accompanied by increased levels in the hypoblast compared with the epiblast. Blastocyst outgrowth in vitro is a model for implantation and showed that a demethylated state persisted in the epiblast while the hypoblast had higher levels of both 5meC and 5hmC staining. The high levels of 5meC and 5hmC evident in the TE persisted in trophoblast and trophoblast giant cells after attachment of the blastocyst to the substratum in vitro. This study shows that global cytosine hypomethylation and hypohydroxymethylation accompanied the formation of the pluripotent ICM and this persisted into the epiblast after blastocyst outgrowth, and each differentiated lineage formed in the early embryo showed higher global levels of 5meC and 5hmC.

Open access

Adam J Watkins, Emma S Lucas, Stephanie Marfy-Smith, Nicola Bates, Susan J Kimber and Tom P Fleming

Mammalian placentation is dependent upon the action of trophoblast cells at the time of implantation. Appropriate fetal growth, regulated by maternal nutrition and nutrient transport across the placenta, is a critical factor for adult offspring long-term health. We have demonstrated that a mouse maternal low-protein diet (LPD) fed exclusively during preimplantation development (Emb-LPD) increases offspring growth but programmes adult cardiovascular and metabolic disease. In this study, we investigate the impact of maternal nutrition on post-implantation trophoblast phenotype and fetal growth. Ectoplacental cone explants were isolated at day 8 of gestation from female mice fed either normal protein diet (NPD: 18% casein), LPD (9% casein) or Emb-LPD and cultured in vitro. We observed enhanced spreading and cell division within proliferative and secondary trophoblast giant cells (TGCs) emerging from explants isolated from LPD-fed females when compared with NPD and Emb-LPD explants after 24 and 48 h. Moreover, both LPD and Emb-LPD explants showed substantial expansion of TGC area during 24–48 h, not observed in NPD. No difference in invasive capacity was observed between treatments using Matrigel transwell migration assays. At day 17 of gestation, LPD- and Emb-LPD-fed conceptuses displayed smaller placentas and larger fetuses respectively, resulting in increased fetal:placental ratios in both groups compared with NPD conceptuses. Analysis of placental and yolk sac nutrient signalling within the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 pathway revealed similar levels of total and phosphorylated downstream targets across groups. These data demonstrate that early post-implantation embryos modify trophoblast phenotype to regulate fetal growth under conditions of poor maternal nutrition.

Open access

V A van der Weijden, J T Bick, S Bauersachs, G J Arnold, T Fröhlich, B Drews and S E Ulbrich

The uterine microenvironment during pre-implantation presents a pro-survival milieu and is essential for embryo elongation in ruminants. The European roe deer (Careolus capreolus) pre-implantation embryo development is characterised by a 4-month period of reduced development, embryonic diapause, after which the embryo rapidly elongates and implants. We investigated the uterine fluid proteome by label-free liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry at four defined stages covering the phase of reduced developmental pace (early diapause, mid-diapause and late diapause) and embryo elongation. We hypothesised that embryo development during diapause is halted by the lack of signals that support progression past the blastocyst stage. Three clusters of differentially abundant proteins were identified by a self-organising tree algorithm: (1) gradual reduction over development; (2) stable abundance during diapause, followed by a sharp rise at elongation; and (3) gradual increase over development. Proteins in the different clusters were subjected to gene ontology analysis. ‘Cellular detoxification’ in cluster 1 was represented by alcohol dehydrogenase, glutathione S-transferase and peroxiredoxin-2. ATP-citrate synthase, nucleolin, lamin A/C, and purine phosphorylase as cell proliferation regulators were found in cluster 2 and ‘cortical cytoskeleton’, ‘regulation of substrate adhesion-dependent cell spreading’ and ‘melanosome’ were present in cluster 3. Cell cycle promoters were higher abundant at elongation than during diapause, and polyamines presence indicates their role in diapause regulation. This study provides a comprehensive overview of proteins in the roe deer uterine fluid during diapause and forms a basis for studies aiming at understanding the impact of the lack of cell cycle promoters during diapause.

Open access

Guangdong Li, Xiuzhi Tian, Dongying Lv, Lu Zhang, Zhenzhen Zhang, Jing Wang, Minghui Yang, Jingli Tao, Teng Ma, Hao Wu, Pengyun Ji, Yingjie Wu, Zhengxing Lian, Wei Cui and Guoshi Liu

NLRP (NACHT, LRR and PYD domain-containing proteins) family plays pivotal roles in mammalian reproduction. Mutation of NLRP7 is often associated with human recurrent hydatidiform moles. Few studies regarding the functions of NLRP7 have been performed in other mammalian species rather than humans. In the current study, for the first time, the function of NLRP7 has been explored in ovine ovary. NLRP7 protein was mainly located in ovarian follicles and in in vitro pre-implantation embryos. To identify its origin, 763 bp partial CDS of NLRP7 deriving from sheep cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) was cloned, it showed a great homology with Homo sapiens. The high levels of mRNA and protein of NLRP7 were steadily expressed in oocytes, parthenogenetic embryos or IVF embryos. NLRP7 knockdown by the combination of siRNA and shRNA jeopardized both the parthenogenetic and IVF embryo development. These results strongly suggest that NLRP7 plays an important role in ovine reproduction. The potential mechanisms of NLRP7 will be fully investigated in the future.

Open access

Jie Mei, Yuan Yan, Shi-Yuan Li, Wen-Jie Zhou, Qun Zhang, Ming-Qing Li and Hai-Xiang Sun

Decidualization renders the endometrium transiently receptive to an implanting blastocyst although the underlying mechanisms remain incompletely understood. The aim of this study was to determine the role of chemokine CXCL16 and its receptor CXCR6 in the decidualization during pregnancy. Here, the expression of CXCL16 was investigated in endometrial tissues, decidua and placenta in this study. Compared with endometrial tissue, protein expression of CXCL16 was significantly higher in tissues from the fertile control samples, especially in villus. Meanwhile, the primary trophoblast cells and decidual stromal cells (DSCs) secreted more CXCL16 and expressed higher CXCR6 compared to endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) in vitro. Stimulation with the inducer of decidualization (8-bromoadenosine 3′,5′-cyclic with medroxyprogesterone acetate, 8-Br-cAMP plus MPA) significantly upregulated the expression of CXCL16 and CXCR6 in ESCs in vitro. After treatment with exogenous recombinant human CXCL16 (rhCXCL16) or trophoblast-secreted CXLC16, decidualised ESCs showed a significant decidual response, mainly characterised by increased prolactin (PRL) secretion. Simultaneously, PI3K/PDK1/AKT/Cyclin D1 pathway in decidualised ESCs were activated by rhCXCL16, and AKT inhibitor GS 690693 abolished the PRL secretion of ESCs that was triggered by rhCXCL16. Finally, the impaired CXCL16/CXCR6 expression could be observed at the maternal–foetal interface from patients who have experienced spontaneous abortion. This study suggests that the CXCL16/CXCR6 axis contributes to the progression of ESC decidualization by activating PI3K/PDK1/AKT/Cyclin D1 pathway. It unveils a new paradigm at the maternal–foetal interface in which CXCL16 is an initiator for the molecular crosstalk that enhances decidualization of ESCs.

Open access

Luiz G B Siqueira and Peter J Hansen

We tested whether gene expression of the bovine morula is modified by CSF2 in a sex-dependent manner and if sex determines the effect of CSF2 on competence of embryos to become blastocysts. Embryos were produced in vitro using X- or Y-sorted semen and treated at Day 5 of culture with 10 ng/mL bovine CSF2 or control. In experiment 1, morulae were collected at Day 6 and biological replicates (n = 8) were evaluated for transcript abundance of 90 genes by RT-qPCR using the Fluidigm Delta Gene assay. Expression of more than one-third (33 of 90) of genes examined was affected by sex. The effect of CSF2 on gene expression was modified by sex (P < 0.05) for five genes (DDX3Y/DDX3X-like, NANOG, MYF6, POU5F1 and RIPK3) and tended (P < 0.10) to be modified by sex for five other genes (DAPK1, HOXA5, PPP2R3A, PTEN and TNFSF8). In experiment 2, embryos were treated at Day 5 with control or CSF2 and blastocysts were collected at Day 7 for immunolabeling to determine the number of inner cell mass (ICM) and trophectoderm (TE) cells. CSF2 increased the percent of putative zygotes that became blastocysts for females, but did not affect the development of males. There was no effect of CSF2 or interaction of CSF2 with sex on the total number of blastomeres in blastocysts or in the number of inner cell mass or trophectoderm cells. In conclusion, CSF2 exerted divergent responses on gene expression and development of female and male embryos. These results are evidence of sexually dimorphic responses of the preimplantation embryo to this embryokine.

Open access

Hai-Yan Hou, Xi Wang, Qi Yu, Hong-Yi Li, Shao-Jie Li, Rui-Yi Tang, Zai-Xin Guo, Ya-Qiong Chen, Chun-Xiu Hu, Zhi-Juan Yang, Wen-ke Zhang and Yan Qin

Decline in successful conception decreases more rapidly after 38 years of age owing to follicular depletion and decreased oocyte quality. However, limited information is available regarding the underlying mechanism and the useful treatment. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of growth hormone supplementation on oocyte maturation in vivo in aged and young mice and to determine its effect on mitochondrial function. The influence of three different doses of recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) (0.4, 0.8 and 1.6 mg/kg/day) for 8 weeks before ovarian stimulation was analyzed. Superovulated oocytes were released from the oviduct of 12-week-old and 40-week-old female C57BL/6J mice 14–16 h after administration of human chorionic gonadotropin. Ovarian follicle and morphological analysis and oocyte maturation parameters were then evaluated. This study is the first, to our knowledge, to report that medium- and high-dose rhGH significantly increases antral follicles in aged mice but anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) levels. Furthermore, derived oocytes, MII-stage oocyte rate, ATP levels, mitochondrial membrane potential and frequencies of homogeneous mitochondrial distribution increased. In contrast, in both aged and young mice, the mtDNA copy numbers per oocyte were similar before rhGH administration, and upon saline administration, they did not differ significantly. We conclude that medium-dose rhGH supplementation before standard ovarian stimulation regimens improves oocyte quality in aged mice, probably by enhancing mitochondrial functionality.

Open access

Linsay J Macdonald, Sheila C Boddy, Fiona C Denison, Kurt J Sales and Henry N Jabbour

Lipoxin A4 is a lipid mediator that elicits anti-inflammatory and pro-resolution actions via its receptor, formyl peptide receptor 2 (FPR2/ALX). In this study, we aimed to investigate the expression and potential role of lipoxin A4 and FPR2/ALX in the regulation of inflammation associated with cyclical remodeling of the human endometrium across the menstrual cycle and during early pregnancy. Using quantitative RT-PCR analysis, we found that FPR2/ALX expression is upregulated during the menstrual phase of the cycle and in decidua tissue from the first trimester of pregnancy. We localized the site of expression of FPR2/ALX in menstrual phase endometrium and first-trimester decidua tissue to glandular epithelial cells and cells within the stromal compartment, including cells lining the blood vessels and immune cells. Measurement of serum lipoxin A4 by ELISA revealed no difference in its levels across the menstrual cycle but an elevation in early pregnancy (P<0.001). We found that lipoxin A4 was regulated by human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) during early pregnancy, because treatment of human decidua tissue with hCG increased lipoxin A4 release (P<0.01). Finally, we have shown that lipoxin A4 can suppress phorbol myristate acetate-induced expression of the inflammatory cytokines interleukin 6 and 8 in human endometrium and decidua tissue. These results demonstrate for the first time that lipoxin A4 and its receptor FPR2/ALX can regulate inflammatory events in the human endometrium and decidua of early pregnancy.