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  • Author: F M Rodríguez x
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A N Amweg, F M Rodríguez, E Huber, B E Marelli, N C Gareis, E M Belotti, F Rey, N R Salvetti and H H Ortega

Glucocorticoids (GCs) such as cortisol and corticosterone are important steroid hormones with different functions in intermediate metabolism, development, cell differentiation, immune response and reproduction. In response to physiological and immunological stress, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) acts on the adrenal gland by stimulating the synthesis and secretion of GCs. However, there is increasing evidence that GCs may also be synthesized by extra-adrenal tissues. Here, we examined the gene and protein expression of the enzyme 11β-hydroxylase P450c11 (CYP11B1), involved in the conversion of 11-deoxycortisol to cortisol, in the different components of the bovine ovary and determined the functionality of CYP11B1 in vitro. CYP11B1 mRNA was expressed in granulosa and theca cells in small, medium and large antral ovarian follicles, and CYP11B1 protein was expressed in medium and large antral follicles. After stimulation by ACTH, we observed an increased secretion of cortisol by the wall of large antral follicles. We also observed a concentration-dependent decrease in the concentration of cortisol in response to metyrapone, an inhibitor of CYP11B1. This decrease was significant at 10−5 µM metyrapone. In conclusion, this study demonstrated for the first time the presence of CYP11B1 in the bovine ovary. This confirms that there could be a local synthesis of GCs in the bovine ovary and therefore a potential endocrine responder to stress through these hormones.

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L N Moro, M I Hiriart, C Buemo, J Jarazo, A Sestelo, D Veraguas, L Rodriguez-Alvarez and D F Salamone

The aim of this study was to evaluate the capacity of domestic cat (Dc, Felis silvestris) oocytes to reprogram the nucleus of cheetah (Ch, Acinonyx jubatus) cells by interspecies SCNT (iSCNT), by using embryo aggregation. Dc oocytes were in vitro matured and subjected to zona pellucida free (ZP-free) SCNT or iSCNT, depending on whether the nucleus donor cell was of Dc or Ch respectively. ZP-free reconstructed embryos were then cultured in microwells individually (Dc1X and Ch1X groups) or in couples (Dc2X and Ch2X groups). Embryo aggregation improved in vitro development obtaining 27.4, 47.7, 16.7 and 28.3% of blastocyst rates in the Dc1X, Dc2X, Ch1X and Ch2X groups, respectively (P<0.05). Moreover, aggregation improved the morphological quality of blastocysts from the Dc2X over the Dc1X group. Gene expression analysis revealed that Ch1X and Ch2X blastocysts had significantly lower relative expression of OCT4, CDX2 and NANOG than the Dc1X, Dc2X and IVF control groups. The OCT4, NANOG, SOX2 and CDX2 genes were overexpressed in Dc1X blastocysts, but the relative expression of these four genes decreased in the Dc2X, reaching similar relative levels to those of Dc IVF blastocysts. In conclusion, Ch blastocysts were produced using Dc oocytes, but with lower relative expression of pluripotent and trophoblastic genes, indicating that nuclear reprogramming could be still incomplete. Despite this, embryo aggregation improved the development of Ch and Dc embryos, and normalized Dc gene expression, which suggests that this strategy could improve full-term developmental efficiency of cat and feline iSCNT embryos.

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C Ortega Ferrusola, L González Fernández, J M Morrell, C Salazar Sandoval, B Macías García, H Rodríguez-Martinez, J A Tapia and F J Peña

Lipid peroxidation (LPO) of stallion spermatozoa was assessed in fresh semen and in samples of the same ejaculates after freezing and thawing. Particular attention was paid to individual differences in the susceptibility to LPO and its possible relationship with freezability. Innate levels of LPO were very low in fresh spermatozoa but increased after thawing, a change that was largely stallion-dependent. The level of LPO in fresh spermatozoa was not correlated with that of the thawed spermatozoa. Negative correlations existed between LPO and intact membranes post-thaw (r=−0.789, P<0.001), and also between LPO and spermatozoa with high mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) post-thaw (r=−0.689, P<0.001). LPO was also highly and significantly correlated with caspase activity. The correlation between caspase activity in ethidium positive cells and LPO was r=0.772, P<0.001. This LPO is unlikely to represent, per se, a sign of cryopreservation-induced injury, but it is apparently capable of triggering ‘apoptotic-like changes’ that could result in the sub-lethal cryodamage often seen among surviving spermatozoa.

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C Ortega-Ferrusola, L Anel-López, P Martín-Muñoz, J M Ortíz-Rodríguez, M C Gil, M Alvarez, P de Paz, L J Ezquerra, A J Masot, E Redondo, L Anel and F J Peña

The reduced lifespan of cryopreserved spermatozoa in the mare reproductive tract has been attributed to both capacitative and apoptotic changes. However, there is a lack of studies investigating both phenomena simultaneously. In order to improve our knowledge in this particular point, we studied in raw and frozen-thawed samples apoptotic and capacitative markers using a wide battery of test based in flow cytometry. Apoptotic markers evaluated were caspase 3 activity, externalization of phosphatidylserine (PS), and mitochondrial membrane potential. Markers of changes resembling capacitation were membrane fluidity, tyrosine phosphorylation, and intracellular sodium. Conventional and computational flow cytometry using nonlinear dimensionally reduction techniques (t-distributed stochastic neighbor embedding (t-SNE)) and automatic classification of cellular expression by nonlinear stochastic embedding (ACCENSE) were used. Most of the changes induced by cryopreservation were apoptotic, with increase in caspase 3 activation (P < 0.01), PS translocation to the outer membrane (P < 0.001), loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (P < 0.05), and increase in intracellular Na+ (P < 0.01). Average values of markers of capacitative changes were not affected by cryopreservation; however, the analysis of the phenotype of individual spermatozoa using computational flow cytometry revealed the presence of subpopulations of spermatozoa experiencing capacitative changes. For the first time advanced computational techniques were applied to the analysis of spermatozoa, and these techniques were able to disclose relevant information of the ejaculate that remained hidden using conventional flow cytometry.

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S Sancho, I Casas, H Ekwall, F Saravia, H Rodriguez-Martinez, J E Rodriguez-Gil, E Flores, E Pinart, M Briz, N Garcia-Gil, J Bassols, A Pruneda, E Bussalleu, M Yeste and S Bonet

This study evaluated the effects of cooling, freezing and thawing on the plasma membrane integrity, kinetics and expression of two sugar transporters glucose transporter-3 and -5 (GLUT-3 and GLUT-5) in spermatozoa from Iberian boars. Semen samples were collected twice weekly from eight young, fertile Iberian boars of the ‘Entrepelado’ and ‘Lampiño’ breeds. The samples were suspended in a commercial extender and refrigerated to 17 °C for transport to the laboratory (step A), where they were further extended with a lactose–egg yolk-based extender and chilled to 5 °C (step B) prior to freezing in the presence of glycerol (3%). Spermatozoa were assessed for plasma membrane integrity and sperm motility at each of the steps, including post-thaw (step C). Aliquots were also prepared for immunocytochemical localisation of the sugar transporters (fixed and thin smears for transmission and scanning electron microscopy levels respectively) and for SDS–PAGE electrophoresis and subsequent western blotting, using the same antibodies (rabbit anti-GLUT-3 and anti-GLUT-5 polyclonal antibodies). The results showed lower percentages of progressively motile spermatozoa at step C in both breeds, while the percentage of live spermatozoa was significantly lower only in the ‘Entrepelado’ breed. The results obtained from electron microscopy clearly showed that Iberian boar spermatozoa expressed the hexose transporters, GLUT-3 and GLUT-5. The pattern of expression, in terms of location and concentration, was characteristic in each case but, in the case of isoform GLUT-5, it remained constant during the different steps of freezing–thawing protocol. These results indicate that cryopreservation affects the status of sperm cells of Iberian boars by altering the distribution of some membrane receptors and decreasing the percentage values of parameters linked to sperm quality.

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C Hidalgo, C Díez, P Duque, J M Prendes, A Rodríguez, F Goyache, I Fernández, N Facal, S Ikeda, C Alonso-Montes and E Gómez

Retinoids have been shown to enhance developmental competence of the oocyte in cattle, sheep and pigs. In this study we investigated whether exogenous retinol stimulates the bovine oocyte during its intrafollicular growth and the time limits of exposure to exogenous retinol. In addition, we also determined the efficiency of ovum pick-up techniques in combination with retinol treatment and the viability of embryos after transfer to recipients. In Experiment 1, heifers were injected with retinol or vehicle, and concentrations of retinol in the blood were analysed on Day 0 (prior to injection), Day 1 and, together with follicular fluid, Day 4. Blood retinol increased by Day 1 and cleared on Day 4, but retinol remained higher within the follicle. In Experiment 2, oocyte donors were injected weekly with retinol or vehicle four times during a twice-per-week cycle of eight recovery sessions (starting 4 days before the first session), followed by a second eight-session cycle without treatment. Oocytes recovered were fertilized and cultured in vitro. Retinol treatment yielded higher numbers of low-quality oocytes throughout, although retinol measured during cycles did not change. Total oocytes, and morulae and blastocyst rates, increased during the first five sessions following treatment with retinol. As previously shown with oocytes from slaughterhouse ovaries, retinoic acid stimulated blastocyst development. Following transfer to recipients, blastocysts from oocytes exposed to retinol were unable to establish pregnancy. Our study confirms the existence of an effect of retinol on the intrafollicular oocyte in the cow and provides evidence regarding the teratogenic effect of retinol.