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Marie Saint-Dizier, Maryse Chopineau, Joëlle Dupont, and Yves Combarnous

The full-length equine luteinizing hormone/chorionic gonadotropin (LH/CG) receptor (eLH/CG-RA) cDNA and two alternatively spliced isoforms (eLH/CG-RB,C) were isolated from luteal tissue and characterized using a combination of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and 5′-rapid amplification of cDNA ends. The 680-amino acid full sequence of eLH/CG-RA displayed 87–92% homology with other mammalian LH/CG-Rs. The eLH/CG-RB and eLH/CG-RC cDNA isoforms were truncated from the 3′-end of exon X: eLH/CG-RB spliced out of frame into the last exon whereas eLH/CG-RC contained an in-frame stop codon within a divergent sequence. Consequently, both eLH/CG-RB and eLH/CG-RC cDNA isoforms encoded putative proteins without transmembrane and intracellular domains.

In order to study the responsiveness of the primary corpus luteum (CL) and fetal gonads to eCG, the expression of eLH/CG-R mRNAs was examined by RT-PCR and Northern blot analysis during early and mid-pregnancy. All three eLH/CG-R cDNA isoforms (eLH/CG-RA,B,C) were expressed from day 14 to day 83 of pregnancy in the primary CL and from day 44 to day 222 in fetal gonads. Interestingly, the primary CL at days 89 and 151 expressed only truncated eLH/CG-R cDNA isoforms. The relative values of Northern hybridized major 7, 5.7, 3.9 and 1.8 kb eLH/CG-R mRNA transcripts tended to decrease in the primary CL whereas the unique major 1.8 kb eLH/CG-R mRNA was steadily expressed in fetal gonads during pregnancy. These results show that the expression of eLH/CG-R mRNAs occurs in the fetal gonads before ceasing in the primary CL and suggest that eCG may be involved in the gradual transition from a luteal to a feto-placental output of steroids during equine pregnancy.

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Mélodie Diot, Maxime Reverchon, Christelle Ramé, Yannick Baumard, and Joëlle Dupont

In mammals, nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) is an adipokine produced by adipose tissue that is found in intracellular and extracellular compartments. The intracellular form of NAMPT is a nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase, whereas the extracellular form is considered an adipokine. In humans, NAMPT regulates energy metabolism and reproductive functions, such as ovarian steroidogenesis. To date, no study has investigated the role of NAMPT in hen ovaries. We investigated whether NAMPT is present in hen ovarian follicles and its role in granulosa cells. Using RT-PCR, western blotting and immunocytochemistry, we detected mRNA transcripts and proteins related to NAMPT in theca and granulosa cells from pre-ovulatory follicles. Using RT-PCR, we demonstrated that mRNA NAMPT levels were higher in granulosa cells than they were in theca cells and that during follicle development, theca cell levels decreased, whereas levels remained unchanged in granulosa cells. NAMPT protein quantities were significantly higher in theca cells than they were in granulosa cells, but they were unchanged during follicular development. Plasma NAMPT levels, as determined by ELISA and immunoblotting, were significantly lower in adult hens than they were in juveniles. In vitro, treatment with human recombinant NAMPT (100 ng/ml, 48 h) halved basal and IGF1-induced progesterone secretion, and this was associated with a reduction in STAR and HSD3B protein levels and MAPK3/1 phosphorylation levels in granulosa cells. These effects were abolished by the addition of FK866, a specific inhibitor of NAMPT enzymatic activity. Moreover, NAMPT had no effect on granulosa cell proliferation. In conclusion, NAMPT is present in hen ovarian cells and inhibits progesterone production in granulosa cells.

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Christine Chabrolle, Lucie Tosca, and Joélle Dupont

In mammals, adiponectin and its receptors (AdipoR1 and AdipoR2) mRNAs are expressed in various tissues. However, the cellular expression and the role of adiponectin system have never been investigated in rat ovary. Here, we report the presence of adiponectin, AdipoR1 and AdipoR2 in rat ovaries, and we have investigated its role in granulosa cells. Using RT-PCR and western blot, we show that the mRNAs and proteins for adiponectin, AdipoR1 and AdipoR2 are found in the ovaries. Immunohistochemistry localized adiponectin, AdipoR1 and AdipoR2 in theca-interstitial T-I cells, corpus luteum, oocyte and less abundantly in granulosa cells. In the KGN human granulosa cell line, adiponectin mRNA and protein were undetectable; AdipoR2 was weakly expressed, whereas AdipoR1 was clearly present. Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) injection (48 h) after pregnant mare serum gonadotrophin (PMSG) injection (24 h) in immature rats increased the level of adiponectin (protein) by about threefold (P < 0.05) and those of AdipoR1 by threefold (mRNA, P < 0.05) and 1.5-fold (protein, P < 0.05) in ovary, whereas the mRNA and protein levels of AdipoR2 were unchanged. Interestingly, hCG injection (48 h) after the PMSG treatment (24 h) decreased plasma adiponectin levels and increased insulin plasma levels. In vitro in primary rat granulosa cells, human adiponectin recombinant (5 μg/ml) in the presence or absence of follicle-stimulating hormone (10−8 M, 48 h) had no effect on the steroidogenesis. However, it increased progesterone secretion (P < 0.05) by about twofold and oestradiol production (P < 0.05) by about 1.6-fold in response to insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) (10−8 M). Furthermore, it improved IGF-I-induced IGF-I receptor-β subunit tyrosine phosphorylation and ERK1/2 phosphorylation. In basal state, human adiponectin recombinant also increased rapidly but transiently the ERK1/2, p38 and Akt phosphorylations, whereas it increased more lately the adenosine 5′-monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) phosphorylation. Thus, AdipoR1 and AdipoR2 are regulated by hCG treatment in rat ovary and adiponectin enhances IGF-I-induced steroidogenesis in granulosa cells.

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Svetlana Uzbekova, Mohamad Salhab, Christine Perreau, Pascal Mermillod, and Joëlle Dupont

Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) regulates cellular metabolism and cell cycle via different signalling pathways. In response to insulin and growth factors GSK3 is serine-phosphorylated and inactivated. We analysed GSK3B expression and activation in bovine cumulus cells (CC) and oocytes at different meiotic stages in vitro in parallel with MAP kinases ERK (MAPK3/MAPK1) and p38 (MAPK14). GSK3B localised to cytoplasm in granulosa cells and in oocytes throughout folliculogenesis. In mature metaphase-II (MII) oocytes, GSK3B was concentrated to the region of midzone between the oocyte and the first polar body, as well as active phospho-Thr Aurora A kinase (AURKA). During in vitro maturation (IVM), in oocytes, phospho-Ser9-GSK3B level increased as well as phospho-MAPK3/MAPK1, while phospho-MAPK14 decreased. In CC, phospho-MAPK14 increased upon germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD)/metaphase-I (MI) and then decreased during transition to MII. Administration of inhibitors of GSK3 activity (lithium chloride or 2′Z,3′E -6-bromoindirubin-3′-oxime) rapidly increased phospho-Ser9-GSK3B, and led to transient decrease of phospho-MAPK3/MAPK1 and to durable enhancing of phospho-MAPK14 in granulosa primary cell culture. GSK3 inhibitors during IVM diminished cumulus expansion and delayed meiotic progression. In cumulus, phospho-MAPK14 level was significantly higher in the presence of inhibitors, comparing with control, through the time of MI/MII transition. In oocytes, phospho-GSK3B was increased and phospho-MAPK3/MAPK1 was decreased before GVBD and oocytes were mainly arrested at MI. Therefore, GSK3B might regulate oocyte meiosis, notably MI/MII transition being the part of MAPK3/1 and MAPK14 pathways in oocytes and CC. GSK3B might be also involved in the local activation of AURKA that controls this transition.

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Agnieszka Rak, Namya Mellouk, Pascal Froment, and Joëlle Dupont

Adipokines, including adiponectin and resistin, are cytokines produced mainly by the adipose tissue. They play a significant role in metabolic functions that regulate the insulin sensitivity and inflammation. Alterations in adiponectin and resistin plasma levels, or their expression in metabolic and gonadal tissues, are observed in some metabolic pathologies, such as obesity. Several studies have shown that these two hormones and the receptors for adiponectin, AdipoR1 and AdipoR2 are present in various reproductive tissues in both sexes of different species. Thus, these adipokines could be metabolic signals that partially explain infertility related to obesity, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Species and gender differences in plasma levels, tissue or cell distribution and hormonal regulation have been reported for resistin and adiponectin. Furthermore, until now, it has been unclear whether adiponectin and resistin act directly or indirectly on the hypothalamo–pituitary–gonadal axis. The objective of this review was to summarise the latest findings and particularly the species and gender differences of adiponectin and resistin on female and male reproduction known to date, based on the hypothalamo–pituitary–gonadal axis.

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Lucie Tosca, Christelle Ramé, Christine Chabrolle, Sophie Tesseraud, and Joëlle Dupont

Although its mechanism of action is still unclear, metformin is an anti-diabetic drug effective to restore cyclicity and spontaneous ovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. It may also reduce the risk of cancer. We have recently shown that metformin treatment decreases steroidogenesis through AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) in granulosa cells of various species. Here, we investigated the effects and the molecular mechanisms of metformin in IGF1-induced proliferation and protein synthesis in cultured bovine granulosa cells. Treatment with metformin (10 mM) for 24 h reduced cell proliferation and the levels of cyclin D2 and E, and increased the associations cyclin D2/p21 and cyclin D2/p27 without affecting cell viability in response to IGF1 (10−8 M). It also decreased IGF1-induced protein synthesis and phosphorylation of P70S6 kinase and ribosomal S6 protein. Interestingly, metformin treatment for 1 h decreased MAPK3/1 (ERK1/2) and P90RSK phosphorylation without affecting AKT phosphorylation in response to IGF1. Adenovirus-mediated expression of dominant-negative AMPK totally abolished the effects of metformin on cell proliferation and phosphorylation of P70S6K in response to IGF1. It also eliminated the inhibitory effects of metformin on MAPK3/1 and P90RSK phosphorylation. Taken together, our results strongly suggest that metformin reduces cell growth, protein synthesis, MAPK3/1, and P90RSK phosphorylation in response to IGF1 through an AMPK-dependent mechanism in cultured bovine granulosa cells.

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Virginie Maillard, Pascal Froment, Christelle Ramé, Svetlana Uzbekova, Sébastien Elis, and Joëlle Dupont

Resistin, initially identified in adipose tissue and macrophages, was implicated in insulin resistance. Recently, its mRNA was found in hypothalamo–pituitary axis and rat testis, leading us to hypothesize that resistin may be expressed in ovary. In this study, we determined in rats and cows 1) the characterization of resistin in ovary by RT-PCR, immunoblotting, and immunohistochemistry and 2) the effects of recombinant resistin (10, 100, 333, and 667 ng/ml)±IGF1 (76 ng/ml) on steroidogenesis, proliferation, and signaling pathways of granulosa cells (GC) measured by enzyme immunoassay, [3H]thymidine incorporation, and immunoblotting respectively. We observed that resistin mRNA and protein were present in several bovine and rat ovarian cells. Nevertheless, only bovine GC abundantly expressed resistin mRNA and protein. Resistin treatment decreased basal but not IGF1-induced progesterone (P<0.05; whatever the dose) and estradiol (P<0.005; for 10 and 333 ng/ml) production by bovine GC. In rats, resistin (10 ng/ml) increased basal and IGF1-induced progesterone secretion (P<0.0001), without effect on estradiol release. We found no effect of resistin on rat GC proliferation. Conversely, in cows, resistin increased basal proliferation (P<0.0001; for 100–667 ng/ml) and decreased IGF1-induced proliferation of GC (P<0.0001; for 10–333 ng/ml) associated with a decrease in cyclin D2 protein level (P<0.0001). Finally, resistin stimulated AKT and p38-MAPK phosphorylation in both species, ERK1/2-MAPK phosphorylation in rats and had the opposite effect on the AMPK pathway (P<0.05). In conclusion, our results show that resistin is expressed in rat and bovine ovaries. Furthermore, it can modulate GC functions in basal state or in response to IGF1 in vitro.

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Claude Fabre-Nys, Audrey Chanvallon, Nathalie Debus, Dominique François, Frédéric Bouvier, Joelle Dupont, Lionel Lardic, Didier Lomet, Christelle Ramé, and Rex J Scaramuzzi

The proportion of anoestrous ewes ovulating after exposure to a sexually active ram is variable mainly due to whether an LH surge is induced. The aim of this study was to determine the role of oestradiol (E2) in the ram-induced LH surge. In one study, we measured the plasma concentrations of E2 in ewes of different breeds before and after the ‘ram effect’ and related these patterns to the presence and latency of the LH surge, while another compared ovarian responses with the ‘ram effect’ following exposure to rams for 2 or 12 h. In all ewes, the concentration of E2 increased 2–4 h after rams were introduced and remained elevated for 14.5±0.86 h. The quantity of E2 secreted before the LH surge varied among breeds as did the mean concentration of E2. The granulosa cells of IF ewes collected after 12 h exposure to rams secreted more E2 and progesterone and had higher levels of StAR than the 2 h group but in MV ewes there was no differences between these groups for any of these parameters. These results demonstrate that the LH surge induced by the rams is a result of increased E2 secretion associated with increased levels of STAR in granulosa cells and that these responses varied among breeds. The results suggest that the variable occurrence of a LH surge and ovulation may be the result of variable ovarian responses to the ‘ram effect’ and insensitivity of the hypothalamus to the E2-positive feedback signal.

Free French abstract: A French translation of this abstract is freely available at

Free access

Patrycja Kurowska, Ewa Mlyczyńska, Alix Barbe, Christophe Staub, Ewa Gregoraszczuk, Joëlle Dupont, and Agnieszka Rak

Vaspin, also known as visceral adipose tissue-derived serine protease inhibitor, is a member of the serine protease inhibitor family. Its expression is associated with obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, and elevated concentration is observed in polycystic ovary syndrome. However, vaspin has never been studied in the ovary. Here, we identified vaspin in two prolific breeds of pigs: fat Meishan (MS) and lean Large White (LW). We then investigated the molecular mechanism involved in the regulation of its expression in response to gonadotropins, insulin, insulin-like growth factor type 1 (IGF-1) and steroids (progesterone, testosterone and oestradiol) in ovarian follicles cells. Using real-time PCR and Western blot, we found higher vaspin mRNA and protein expression in the ovarian follicles and adipose tissue at 10–12 days of the oestrous cycle in MS compared to LW. Moreover, vaspin expression, as well as its concentration in plasma and follicular fluid, decreased in ovarian follicles of LW during days of the oestrous cycle, while the opposite results were noted in MS. Immunohistochemistry showed vaspin in granulosa, theca, cumulus cells and oocytes as well as in adipocytes. Vaspin level in the ovary increased by gonadotropin, insulin, IGF-1 and steroids stimulation through kinases JAK/Stat, ERK1/2, PI3K and AMPK, as well as factor NF-κB. These findings all show vaspin expression and regulation in the pig ovary, indicating vaspin as a new regulator in female reproduction. Future studies will be necessary for understanding the role of vaspin on ovarian physiology providing new insights into the pathology of ovaries.

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Namya Mellouk, Christelle Ramé, Joël Delaveau, Christophe Rat, Maxime Marchand, Frédéric Mercerand, Angélique Travel, Aurélien Brionne, Pascal Chartrin, Linlin Ma, Pascal Froment, and Joëlle Dupont

Overfed hens selected for their rapid growth become fatter and develop reproductive disorders. Herein, we aimed to demonstrate that food restriction leading to a weight reduction and/or a supplementation with fish oil may be effective in preventing reproductive disorders through the regulation of adipokine expression in broiler hens. This study included four groups of food restricted (Rt) or ad libitum hens (Ad, feeding at a rate 1.7 times greater than Rt hens) supplemented or unsupplemented with fish oil (1%). The Rt diet significantly increased plasma chemerin (RARRES2) levels during the laying period, delayed sexual maturity by one week and improved egg quality and fertility. These effects were associated with higher progesterone production in response to IGF1 (or LH) in cultured granulosa cells and in vivo egg yolk, as compared with Ad hens. Fish oil supplementation had similar effects to the Rt diet on progesterone (P < 0.05), but without any effect on fertility. Using RT-PCR, we found that RARRES2 levels were lower in theca cells of Rt hens and NAMPT levels were increased by the fish oil supplementation. A significant positive correlation between RARRES2 expression in granulosa cells and the weight of F1 preovulatory follicle was observed, as well as a negative correlation of plasma RARRES2 levels with hatchability. Thus, food restriction but not fish oil supplementation improved fertility, and this was associated with variations in RARRES2 plasma and ovarian expression in hens.