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Mónica Marques, Ana Paula Sousa, Artur Paiva, Teresa Almeida-Santos, and João Ramalho-Santos

We have applied the mitochondria-specific superoxide fluorescent probe MitoSOX Red (MitoSOX) to detect mitochondria-specific reactive oxygen species (mROS) production in human sperm samples using flow cytometry. We show that human ejaculates are heterogeneous in terms of mROS production, with three subpopulations clearly detectable, comprising sperm that produce increasing amounts of mROS (MitoSOX−, MitoSOX+, and MitoSOX++). The sperm subpopulation producing the lowest amount of mROS represented the most functional subset of male gametes within the ejaculate, as it was correlated with the highest amount of live and non-apoptotic sperm and increased both in samples with better semen parameters and in samples processed by both density-gradient centrifugation and swim-up, both known to select for higher quality sperm. Importantly, the MitoSOX− subpopulation was clearly more prevalent in samples that gave rise to pregnancies following assisted reproduction. Our work, therefore, not only describe discreet human sperm heterogeneity at the mROS level but also suggests that mROS may represent a strategy to both evaluate sperm samples and isolate the most functional gametes for assisted reproduction.

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Ana Filipa Ferreira, Maria Soares, Sandra Almeida Reis, João Ramalho-Santos, Ana Paula Sousa, and Teresa Almeida-Santos

Mitochondrial supplementation was proposed as a complementary treatment to assisted reproductive technologies to improve oocyte competence and support post-fertilization development. This strategy is based on the fact that poor-quality/aged oocytes contain lower and dysfunctional mitochondria. However, the efficacy and safety of mitochondrial supplementation are still controversial. Therefore, this review summarizes the clinical/biological outcomes of mitochondrial supplementation, aiming to improve oocyte competence or explore the safety of this technique, and was based on an online search using PubMed and Web of Science, until September 2019. The studies included reported outcomes related to the efficacy and safety of mitochondrial supplementation either in human or animal models (bovine, porcine and mouse). Extracted data were organized according to study objective, the mitochondrial source and the main outcomes: fertilization/pregnancy rates, embryo development and adverse outcomes. Clinical pregnancy was not improved in the only randomized controlled trial published, although an increase was demonstrated in other non-randomized studies. Fertilization rate and embryo development were not different from control groups in the majority of studies, although performed in different contexts and using diverse sources of mitochondria. The safety of mitochondria transfer is still a concern, however, the euploid rate and the absence of reported congenital malformation from the clinical studies are reassuring. In summary, mitochondrial supplementation does not seem to cause harm although the benefit of improving oocyte competence is still unclear due to the diversity of methodological approaches and low-quality of the data available. Analyzed data support the need to investigate further, in both pre-clinical and clinical contexts.

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Paula de Carvalho Papa, Liza Margareth Medeiros de Carvalho Sousa, Renata dos Santos Silva, Luciana Alves de Fátima, Vanessa Uemura da Fonseca, Vanessa Coutinho do Amaral, Bernd Hoffmann, Ana Bárbara Alves-Wagner, Ubiratan Fabres Machado, and Mariusz Pawel Kowalewski

The canine corpus luteum (CL) functions as a source of progesterone (P4) and 17β-oestradiol (E2); however, the transport of energy substrates to maintain its high hormonal output has not yet been characterised. This study involved the localisation and temporal distribution of the facilitative glucose transporter 1 and the quantification of the corresponding protein (GLUT1) and gene (SLC2A1) expression. Some GLUT1/SLC2A1 regulatory proteins, such as hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF1A) and fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2); mRNAs, such as HIF1A, FGF2 and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA); and VEGFA receptors 1 and 2 (FLT1 and KDR) were also analysed from days 10 to 70 after ovulation. Additionally, plasma P4 and E2 levels were assessed via chemiluminescence. Moreover, the canine KDR sequence has been cloned, thereby enabling subsequent semi-quantitative PCR analysis. Our results demonstrate time-dependent variations in the expression profile of SLC2A1 during dioestrus, which were accompanied by highly correlated changes (0.84<r<0.98; P<0.03) in the gene expression of HIF1A, VEGF and FLT1 as well as in P4 plasma concentrations. FGF2 mRNA correlated with E2 plasma concentrations (r=0.61; P=0.01). Our data reveal that the glucose transporter is regulated throughout the CL lifespan and suggest that CL depends on the sensing of hypoxia and the status of luteal vascularisation. Moreover, time-dependent expression of GLUT1/SLC2A1 may lie underneath increased metabolic and energetic requirements for sustaining P4 production.