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Free access

T. R. Hansen, R. D. Randel and T. H. Welsh Jr

Summary. Granulosa cell responsiveness at an early (1–2 h) or late (14–16 h) stage of differentiation following the onset of oestrus [and presumably the LH surge] was studied in 16 cows. Follicular fluid collected at the early stage (8 preovulatory follicles) had a higher concentration of testosterone (P < 0·05), oestradiol (P < 0·01) and oestrone (P < 0·01) than did follicular fluid collected at the late stage of oestrus (8 preovulatory follicles). No difference in follicular fluid progesterone was noted between follicles collected at the early and late stages of oestrus. Granulosa cells collected at the early stage of oestrus had a higher in-vitro response (progesterone production) to LH (P < 0·05), forskolin (P < 0·08) and diacylglycerol (P < 0·05) than did granulosa cells collected at the late stage of oestrus. However, later stage granulosa cells produced more (P < 0·01) progesterone after culture with prostaglandin E-2 than did earlier stage granulosa cells. These results show that follicular fluid oestrogen decreases, which suggests a loss of aromatase activity as oestrus progresses, and that granulosa cells become refractory (low progesterone production) to in-vitro LH, forskolin, and diacylglycerol challenge, yet acquire responsiveness to prostaglandin E-2 as oestrus progresses.

Keywords: cow; granulosa cells; LH; ovary; progesterone

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Tine-Tsan Lin, Po-Chiang Lan, Yi-Jui Hsieh and Yung-Song Wang

Japanese eels are commercially valuable species in Asian aquaculture. This study evaluated whether salmon pituitary extract (SPE) or 17β-estradiol (E2) treatment can induce cytotoxic activity in eel ovarian follicles. Follicular cells died after exposure SPE for 24-h culture in an in vitro culture. Moreover, the E2 treatment also significantly reduced follicular cell counts. These results reveal that the inhibition of follicular cell numbers by SPE may occur through SPE-induced steroidogenesis. Results of a quantitative PCR analysis indicated that adding E2 to the culture decreased bcl2 and increased dnmt1 mRNA expression in Japanese eel follicular cells after 24 h. The results of a promoter assay revealed that E2 significantly increase dnmt1 promoter activity through estrogen receptor-binding site. An in silico analysis predicted several putative transcription factors targeting the bcl2 gene promoter region. Methylation of the bcl2 promoter accounted for the downregulation of bcl2 by E2-mediated dnmt1. The DNA methylation level of the bcl2 gene was significantly higher in E2-treated follicular cells than that in the control group. Finally, the E2-induced hypermethylation pattern of the bcl2 promoter and the reduction in follicular cell numbers were suppressed by adding an MTase inhibitor. Our findings demonstrate that estrogen has a negative effect on the reproductive system of female eels by regulating an epigenetic mechanism during artificial maturation.

Free access

B Oussaid, P Lonergan, H Khatir, A Guler, D Monniaux, JL Touze, JF Beckers, Y Cognie and P Mermillod

A GnRH antagonist (Antarelix) was used to suppress endogenous pulsatile secretion of LH and delay the preovulatory LH surge in superovulated heifers to study the effect of a prolonged follicular phase on both follicle and oocyte quality. Oestrous cycles were synchronized in 12 heifers with progestagen (norgestomet) implants for 10 days. On day 4 (day 0 = day of oestrus), heifers were stimulated with 24 mg pFSH for 4 days and luteolysis was induced at day 6 with PGF2 alpha (2 ml Estrumate). Animals in the control group (n = 4) were killed 24 h after the last FSH injection. At this time, heifers in group A36h (n = 4) and group A60h (n = 4) were treated with 1.6 mg of Antarelix every 12 h for 36 and 60 h, respectively, and then killed. After dissection of ovarian follicles, oocytes were collected for individual in vitro maturation, fertilization and culture; follicular fluid was collected for determination of steroid concentrations, and granulosa cells were smeared, fixed and stained for evaluation of pycnosis rates. Granulosa cell smears showed that 90% of follicles were healthy in the control group. In contrast, 36 and 58% of the follicles in group A36h showed signs of early or advanced atresia, respectively, while 90% of the follicles in group A60h showed signs of late atresia. Intrafollicular concentrations of oestradiol decreased (P < 0.0001) from healthy follicles (799.14 +/- 40.65 ng ml-1) to late atretic follicles (3.96 +/- 0.59 ng ml-1). Progesterone concentrations were higher (P < 0.0001) in healthy follicles compared with atretic follicles, irrespective of degree of atresia. Oestradiol:progesterone ratios decreased (P < 0.0001) from healthy (4.58 +/- 0.25) to late atretic follicles (0.07 +/- 0.009). The intrafollicular concentrations of oestradiol and progesterone were significantly higher (P < 0.0001) in the control than in the treated groups. The oestradiol:progesterone ratio was higher (P < 0.0001) in the control (4.55 +/- 0.25) than in the A36h (0.40 +/- 0.05) and A60h (0.07 +/- 0.009) groups. Unexpectedly, the cleavage rate of fertilized oocytes, blastocyst rate and number of cells per blastocyst were not significantly different among control (85%, 41% and 95 +/- 8), A36h (86%, 56% and 93 +/- 5) and A60h (88%, 58% and 79 +/- 4) groups. In addition, there were no significant differences in the blastocyst rates from oocytes derived from healthy (45%), early atretic (54%), advanced atretic (57%) and late atretic follicles (53%). In conclusion, the maintenance of the preovulatory follicles in superovulated heifers with a GnRH antagonist induced more atresia and a decrease in oestradiol and progesterone concentrations. However, the developmental potential in vitro to day 8 of the oocytes recovered from these atretic follicles was not affected.

Free access

PS Duggal, NK Ryan, KH Van der Hoek, LJ Ritter, DT Armstrong, DA Magoffin and RJ Norman

Leptin is expressed by adipocytes and is thought to play a role in regulating food intake and in reproduction. It has been demonstrated that acute leptin administration to immature gonadotrophin-primed rats in vivo inhibits ovulation and causes a decline in food intake. However, feed restriction alone does not inhibit ovulation. Two experiments were designed to investigate the mechanism of leptin-induced inhibition of ovulation. In the first experiment, which was prompted by the importance of ovarian leucocytes in ovulation, the role of leucocytes in leptin-induced inhibition of ovulation was investigated. The second experiment investigated whether high leptin concentrations could inhibit other factors important to ovulation, such as meiotic competence of oocytes, granulosa cell proliferation, steroid or PGE(2) release, and interleukin 1beta production, in vitro. In the first experiment, the populations of neutrophils and monocytes-macrophages in the preovulatory follicles of gonadotrophin-primed, leptin-treated and -untreated rats were examined. A decrease in food intake, as a result of either leptin treatment or feed restriction, specifically reduced the numbers of neutrophils and monocytes-macrophages infiltrating the theca interna of preovulatory follicles without affecting the numbers found in the stroma. The findings show that reduced infiltration of thecal neutrophils and macrophages into preovulatory follicles is a response to reduced food intake. Furthermore, this reduction is not the direct cause of the leptin-induced inhibition of ovulation. In the second experiment, ovarian follicles were cultured for 4 or 12 h in the presence or absence of the following hormones: FSH (500 miu), insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) (50 ng ml(-1)), LH (100 ng ml(-1)) and leptin (300 ng ml(-1)). The results demonstrated that high concentrations of leptin in follicle culture do not affect meiotic maturation or steroid release, but tend to inhibit release of PGE 2 (although this result was not significant). DNA synthesis in granulosa cells was not inhibited by leptin in FSH- and IGF-I-supplemented culture media. These results are in agreement with previous studies that have shown that leptin inhibits the stimulatory effects of IGF-I on FSH-stimulated oestradiol production in rat granulosa cells without affecting progesterone production. In summary, leptin does not appear to have an adverse effect on the components of ovulation tested in this study, and therefore must impact on the ovulatory cascade in a way that remains to be defined.

Free access

R. M. Moor and I. M. Crosby

Summary. The pattern, chemical nature and biological role of polypeptides secreted by ovine follicles exposed to gonadotrophins in vivo were studied. Follicles were removed at intervals before ovulation (in-vivo groups), separated into granulosa and cumulus compartments, and incubated for 3 h with radiolabelled amino acids. No differences were detected in the polypeptides (M r 46 000–60 000) secreted by granulosa and cumulus cells before exposure to the preovulatory LH surge. Each class of polypeptides was characterized by different degrees of phosphorylation, sulphation and glycosylation. Within 15 h of the LH surge the secretion of the M r 46 000–60 000 polypeptides had ceased and was replaced by a non-sulphated M r 30 000 secretory product. Significant differences in the secretory pattern of granulosa and cumulus cells were detected after exposure to LH.

Intact follicles and granulosa cells were cultured for 24 h (in-vitro groups) and then incubated with radiolabelled amino acids. The profile of polypeptides secreted by intact follicles cultured in the presence or absence of LH corresponded closely with the profile observed in vivo. By contrast, granulosa cells grown as monolayers switched spontaneously to the secretion of M r 30 000 polypeptides in medium devoid of gonadotrophin. This aberrant secretory switch did not occur in granulosa cells maintained in suspension culture. Inhibition of transcription in follicles exposed to LH prevented both the appearance of the M r 30 000 polypeptide and the disappearance of the M r 46 000–60 000 polypeptides. Although the inhibition of steroidogenesis by a variety of steroid enzyme inhibitors was without effect on secretion, evidence was obtained to suggest that one of the secreted polypeptides binds oestradiol-17β

Free access



Eighty Hereford heifers were injected to induce superovulation with 3000 or 5000 i.u. of purified pregnant mares' serum (pms) in one, two or three doses, administered on Day 12, 14, 16 or 18 of the oestrous cycle, with or without enucleation of corpus luteum; 2000 i.u. of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hcg) were given 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 days after the first pms injection; clay models of the ovaries were constructed daily following palpation per rectum. The animals were bred and slaughtered 2 to 5 days after ovulation. The reproductive tracts were flushed and the ova recovered and examined microscopically; fertilized ova were cultured in vitro in saline solution and autologous serum.

Mean number of mature follicles and percentage that ovulated were almost identical for the right and left ovaries. The development of palpable follicles started 1 to 2 days after first pms injection; ovulation occurred when they reached an estimated average diameter of 14 mm (15 mm for the controls). The number of ovulated follicles was not related to increase in volume of the ovary.

Superovulatory response in the ovary where enucleation was performed was similar to that in the other gonad, but where the corpus luteum was not wholly expressed the total number of follicles developed was appreciably lower. Response was greater in animals that underwent corpus luteum enucleation than in those that remained intact. No advantage was obtained by initiating pms treatment earlier than the 16th day after oestrus nor by dividing 3000 i.u. of the gonadotrophin in two or three daily doses. The total number of follicles developed was higher at 5000 i.u. than at 3000 i.u., but there was a substantial increase in percentage of luteinized and haemorrhagic follicles.

Enucleation of the corpus luteum appeared to facilitate superovulation and decrease fertilization rate. The higher dose of pms (5000 i.u.) did not adversely affect the proportion of ova that were either recovered or fertilized. The time from first to last ovulation did not appreciably affect the recovery or fertilization of ova. The proportion of ova recovered tended to fall with increasing ovulations, but the factors associated with poor recovery were not necessarily related to high ovulation rate. Fimbriae appear capable of picking up ova released from ten follicles, on an average. There was no consistent relationship between the fertilization rate and the number of ovulations. No conclusion could be made relative to the rate of transport of ova due to the scatter in time of ovulations in superovulated animals. Of the ova, 15% were considered morphologically abnormal. Degenerating ova showed different morphological characteristics, indicating that different mechanisms may be responsible for degeneration. In-vitro culture of fertilized ova was unsuccessful.

Free access

KM Kirkup, AM Mallin and CA Bagnell

Epithelial cadherin (E-cadherin) is a member of the cadherin family of calcium-dependent cell adhesion molecules and is present in the ovary. Although expression of E-cadherin is high in healthy pig granulosa cells and low in granulosa cells of atretic follicles, the importance of E-cadherin-mediated adhesion in granulosa cell function is unclear. The aim of the present study was to determine the impact of immunoneutralization of E-cadherin on granulosa cell adhesion, DNA synthesis and cell proliferation in vitro. Before attachment, pig granulosa cells were exposed to a monoclonal E-cadherin antibody (DECMA-1) which blocks E-cadherin function. Controls included substitution of the antibody with either mouse ascites fluid or another E-cadherin antibody directed against the cytoplasmic domain and which was therefore inaccessible in intact cells. Both granulosa cell proliferation and insulin-like growth factor I-induced DNA synthesis were inhibited significantly in the presence of DECMA-1 compared with controls (P < 0.05). Control granulosa cells in culture formed large clusters with many cells packed tightly together. However, after 48 h exposure to the function-perturbing E-cadherin antibody, there was a significant decrease in the size of the granulosa cell clusters (P < 0.05) and the degree of cell-cell contact was reduced compared with control cultures. No effects on DNA synthesis, cell proliferation or cell adhesion were observed when DECMA-1 was substituted with either mouse ascites fluid or the antibody specific for the cytoplasmic domain of E-cadherin. In conclusion, these data provide evidence to support the hypothesis that E-cadherin is important for maintaining granulosa cell contact, DNA synthesis and cell proliferation in vitro. These results indicate that E-cadherin plays a fundamental role in maintaining both the structure and function of ovarian follicles.

Free access

P. Hyttel, K. P. Xu, S. Smith and T. Greve

Summary. Cumulus–oocyte complexes were collected from cows at an abattoir by aspiration from small (1–6 mm) antral follicles. After different periods of culture the complexes were processed for electron microscopy. Cumulus expansion occurred at 12–18 h of culture and concomitantly enlargement of cumulus cell projections in the perivitelline space was seen. At 48 h the innermost cumulus cells flattened and adhered tightly to the zona pellucida. In the oocyte the following changes occurred: at 0–3 h of culture the perivitelline space developed; at 3–12 h disconnection of the junctions between cumulus cell projections and the oolemma, and the concomitant breakdown of the nucleus was observed; at 12–18 h the mitochondria moved from a peripheral location to a more even spatial distribution and the Golgi complexes decreased in size; at ∼18 h the smooth endoplasmic reticulum formed large aggregates surrounded by mitochondria; at 18–21 h the first polar body was abstricted; at 24–40 h the cortical granules spread; at 30–40 h the polar body degenerated in some specimens; at 40–48 h the perivitelline space decreased in size; and at 48 h one oocyte was in the process of fragmentation. It is concluded that nuclear and cytoplasmic oocyte maturation is simulated in vitro. However, certain deviations were noticed compared to in-vivo maturation.

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Nicole A Bastian, Rosemary A Bayne, Katja Hummitzsch, Nicholas Hatzirodos, Wendy M Bonner, Monica D Hartanti, Helen F Irving-Rodgers, Richard A Anderson and Raymond J Rodgers

Fibrillins 1–3 are stromal extracellular matrix proteins that play important roles in regulating TGFβ activity, which stimulates fibroblasts to proliferate and synthesize collagen. In the developing ovary, the action of stroma is initially necessary for the formation of ovigerous cords and subsequently for the formation of follicles and the surface epithelium of the ovary. FBN3 is highly expressed only in early ovarian development and then it declines. In contrast, FBN1 and 2 are upregulated in later ovarian development. We examined the expression of FBN1–3 in bovine and human fetal ovaries. We used cell dispersion and monolayer culture, cell passaging and tissue culture. Cells were treated with growth factors, hormones or inhibitors to assess the regulation of expression of FBN1–3. When bovine fetal ovarian tissue was cultured, FBN3 expression declined significantly. Treatment with TGFβ-1 increased FBN1 and FBN2 expression in bovine fibroblasts, but did not affect FBN3 expression. Additionally, in cultures of human fetal ovarian fibroblasts (9–17weeks gestational age), the expression of FBN1 and FBN2 increased with passage, whereas FBN3 dramatically decreased. Treatment with activin A and a TGFβ family signaling inhibitor, SB431542, differentially regulated the expression of a range of modulators of TGFβ signaling and of other growth factors in cultured human fetal ovarian fibroblasts suggesting that TGFβ signaling is differentially involved in the regulation of ovarian fibroblasts. Additionally, since the changes in FBN1–3 expression that occur in vitro are those that occur with increasing gestational age in vivo, we suggest that the fetal ovarian fibroblasts mature in vitro.

Free access

A. Iritani, M. Kasai, K. Niwa and H. B. Song

Summary. Cattle follicular oocytes were collected from the ovarian follicles and cultured for 28 h in m-KRB solution in a CO2 incubator (5% CO2 in air at 37°C, 95% humidity). After further culture for 15–18 h with spermatozoa, 78·6% of the oocytes had matured to the second metaphase. The highest fertilization rates (36–58%) were obtained when spermatozoa were collected 1 day before insemination, kept for 14–18 h at 20°C in a test tube (10 × 108/ml), preincubated in m-KRB solution (1–1·2 × 108/ml) in a CO2 incubator for 0–12 h, and then inseminated at a concentration of 1·5–2·0 × 106/ml. The optimum period of preincubation in the CO2 incubator was 8 h: 6/15 denuded oocytes (40%) were fertilized with spermatozoa preincubated for 8 h. No polyspermic fertilization was observed in any of the 139 penetrated oocytes. When spermatozoa were preincubated in the uteri of oestrous cows and gilts for 4–4.5 h instead of the m-KRB solution, the fertilization rates were 80 and 86%, respectively. However, in this system, 13 and 24% of the penetrated oocytes were polyspermic. These results indicate that ejaculated bull spermatozoa can be capacitated in a chemically defined isotonic medium, and about half of the oocytes matured in culture are normally fertilized in vitro.