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Da Li, Yue You, Fang-Fang Bi, Tie-Ning Zhang, Jiao Jiao, Tian-Ren Wang, Yi-Ming Zhou, Zi-Qi Shen, Xiu-Xia Wang, and Qing Yang

The importance of autophagy in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)-related metabolic disorders is increasingly being recognized, but few studies have investigated the role of autophagy in PCOS. Here, transmission electron microscopy demonstrated that autophagy was enhanced in the ovarian tissue from both humans and rats with PCOS. Consistent with this, ovarian granulosa cells from PCOS rats showed increases in the autophagy marker protein light chain 3B (LC3B), whereas levels of the autophagy substrate SQSTM1/p62 were decreased. In addition, the ratio of LC3-II/LC3-I was markedly elevated in human PCOS ovarian tissue compared with normal ovarian tissue. Real-time PCR arrays indicated that 7 and 34 autophagy-related genes were down- and up-regulated in human PCOS , Signal-Net, and regression analysis suggested that there are a wide range of interactions among these 41 genes, and a potential network based on EGFR, ERBB2, FOXO1, MAPK1, NFKB1, IGF1, TP53 and MAPK9 may be responsible for autophagy activation in PCOS. Systematic functional analysis of 41 differential autophagy-related genes indicated that these genes are highly involved in specific cellular processes such as response to stress and stimulus, and are linked to four significant pathways, including the insulin, ERBB, mTOR signaling pathways and protein processing in the endoplasmic reticulum. This study provides evidence for a potential role of autophagy disorders in PCOS in which autophagy may be an important molecular event in the pathogenesis of PCOS.

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Fengyin Li, Yong Tao, Yunhai Zhang, Yunsheng Li, Fugui Fang, Ya Liu, Hongguo Cao, Xiaorong Zhang, and Shixian Zhou

Ovary grafting is not only a method of investigating follicle and oocyte development, but also a useful model to explore the possibility of the re-establishment of the reproductive axis in male-to-female sexual reversal. This study investigated ovary survival and follicle development after mouse ovaries were transplanted into immune-intact castrated male mice. Ten-day-old mouse ovaries were transplanted into the back muscle of adult outbred castrated male mice treated with immunosuppressants. Twenty-two days later, the ovary structure and the number of follicles present was examined by hematoxylin and eosin staining. The oocytes were harvested, and then used for in vitro maturation (IVM) and IVF. The results showed that primordial and antral follicles were mainly found in the grafts, and there were obvious differences compared with 32-day-old fresh ovaries (P<0.05). Embryos were derived from collected oocytes after IVM and IVF with a 72.4% cleavage rate and 7.9% blastocyst rate; 12 live pups were generated by embryo transfer. The hormone assay showed that plasma concentrations of both estrogen and progesterone increased after ovarian transplantation (P<0.01). In conclusion, immune-intact adult castrated male mice can support ovary survival and further development of follicles with endocrine function after ovarian transplantation.

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Shangang Li, Xuejin Chen, Zhenfu Fang, Jianjun Shi, and Hui Z Sheng

Somatic cell nuclear transfer offers new opportunities for genetic engineering and genome preservation in mammalian animal species. We show that, in addition to cumulus cells, cultured adult rabbit fibroblasts are also capable of supporting full-term development after nuclear transfer. Nuclear transfer embryos constructed using serum-starved fibroblasts showed a significantly higher developmental rate than non-starved fibroblasts through preimplantation stages. A total of 467 nuclear transfer embryos were transferred into the oviducts of pseudo pregnant mothers. Eight of the 20 surrogate rabbits carried the pregnancy to term and five of them gave birth naturally to a total of nine rabbits. However, all of the offspring died before postnatal day 10. A Caesarean section was performed on three surrogates, giving birth to a total of five rabbits, three of them survived and grew into healthy adults. DNA analyses confirmed that these rabbits were genetically identical to the donor male rabbit. The present study demonstrates that rabbits can be cloned from adult fibroblasts after culture.

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Lanlan Fang, Sijia Wang, Yiran Li, Yiping Yu, Yuxi Li, Yang Yan, Jung-Chien Cheng, and Ying-Pu Sun

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of female infertility. Growth differentiation factor-8 (GDF-8) is expressed in the ovary and can be detected in human follicular fluid which provides an important microenvironment for maintaining physiological functions of the ovarian follicle. To date, the relationship between GDF-8 levels in follicular fluid and the risk of PCOS is completely unknown. In the present study, we show that during the process of the controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH), serum GDF-8 levels are higher on the day of gonadotropin administration and 14 days after embryo transfer in in vitro fertilization (IVF) patients with PCOS than they are in IVF patients without PCOS. Importantly, GDF-8 levels in follicular fluid at oocyte retrieval are also higher in PCOS patients than in non-PCOS patients. Treatment of primary human granulosa-lutein (hGL) cells with GDF-8 downregulates StAR protein expression and the inhibition is more pronounced in hGL cells from PCOS patients than it is in cells from non-PCOS patients. Importantly, high GDF-8 levels and low progesterone (P4) levels were associated with poor pregnancy outcomes in PCOS patients. Our results provide the first evidence that aberrant expression of GDF-8 in the follicular fluid of PCOS patients results in abnormal P4 expression, which leads to poor pregnancy outcomes.

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Cheng Zeng, Pei-Li Wu, Zhao-Tong Dong, Xin Li, Ying-Fang Zhou, and Qing Xue

Endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent disease, and estrogen receptor 2 (ESR2) plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of ovarian endometriosis by promoting cell invasion. Yes-associated protein 1 (YAP1) plays suppressive roles in several types of tumors. However, the relationship between YAP1 and ESR2 is not fully understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the regulatory mechanism of YAP1 in terms of ESR2 and YAP1 regulation of endometriotic stromal cell (ECSC) invasion in ovarian endometriosis. Our results demonstrated that YAP1 mRNA and protein levels in eutopic endometrium (EU) tissues were higher than those in paired ectopic endometrium (EC) tissues. ECSCs transfected with siYAP1 exhibited a significant increase in both ESR2 mRNA levels and protein expression. Simultaneously, YAP1 overexpression in ECSCs yielded the opposite results. Co-IP assays demonstrated YAP1-NuRD complex formation by YAP1, CHD4 and MTA1 in ECSCs. YAP1 bound to two sites, (-539, -533) and (-158, -152), upstream of the ESR2 transcription initiation site. YAP1 binding to the two sites of the ESR2 promoter in ECSCs was significantly lower than that in eutopic endometrial stromal cells (EUSCs) from EU tissues. ECSCs transfected with siYAP1 exhibited increased invasion activity, while ECSCs transfected with siESR2 showed inhibition of invasion. However, transfection with siYAP1 and siESR2 together decreased the number of invading cells compared with transfection with siYAP1 alone. Therefore, we conclude that decreased levels of YAP1 in ovarian endometriomas enhance ESR2 expression via formation of a YAP1-NuRD complex, which further binds to the ESR2 promoters. Furthermore, YAP1 inhibits ECSCs invasion.

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Lanlan Fang, Zhen Wang, Ze Wu, Yang Yan, Yibo Gao, Yuxi Li, Jung-Chien Cheng, and Ying-Pu Sun

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) play a pivotal role in the regulation of cell invasion. Placental trophoblast cell invasion is a precisely regulated event. Dysregulation of MMPs has been linked to various placental diseases. Growth differentiation factor-8 (GDF-8), also known as myostatin, is a member of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) superfamily. GDF-8 and its putative receptors are expressed in human extravillous cytotrophoblast cells (EVTs). Although the pro-invasive effect of GDF-8 in human EVT cells has been recently reported, the underlying molecular mechanism remains largely unknown. In this study, we investigate the effects of GDF-8 on the expression of the two most important MMPs, MMP2 and MMP9, in the HTR-8/SVneo human EVT cell line. Our results show that GDF-8 significantly upregulates the expression of MMP2. The expression of MMP9 is not affected by GDF-8. Using a siRNA-mediated knockdown approach, we reveal that the stimulatory effect of GDF-8 on MMP2 expression is mediated by the ALK5-SMAD2/3 signaling pathway. Additionally, the knockdown of MMP2 attenuates the GDF-8-induced cell invasiveness. These findings deepen our understanding of the biological roles of GDF-8 in the regulation of human trophoblast cell invasion.

Free access

Xuan-Tong Liu, Hui-Ting Sun, Zhong-Fang Zhang, Ru-Xia Shi, Li-Bing Liu, Jia-Jun Yu, Wen-Jie Zhou, Chun-Jie Gu, Shao-Liang Yang, Yu-Kai Liu, Hui-Li Yang, Feng-Xuan Xu, and Ming-Qing Li

It has been reported that the impaired cytotoxicity of natural killer (NK) cells and abnormal cytokines that are changed by the interaction between ectopic endometrial cells and immune cells is indispensable for the initiation and development of endometriosis (EMS). However, the mechanism of NK cells dysfunction in EMS remains largely unclear. Here, we found that NK cells in peritoneal fluid from women with EMS highly expressed indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO). Furthermore, IDO+NK cells possessed lower NKp46 and NKG2D but higher IL-10 than that of IDO-NK. Co-culture with endometrial stromal cells (nESCs) from healthy control or ectopic ESCs (eESCs) from women with EMS led to a significant increase in the IDO level in NK cells from peripheral blood, particularly eESCs, and an anti-TGF-β neutralizing antibody suppressed these effects in vitro. NK cells co-cultured with ESC more preferentially inhibited the viability of nESCs than eESCs did, and pretreating with 1-methyl-tryptophan (1-MT), an IDO inhibitor, reversed the inhibitory effect of NK cells on eESC viability. These data suggest that ESCs induce IDO+NK cells differentiation partly by TGF-β and that IDO further restricts the cytotoxicity of NK cells in response to eESCs, which provides a potential therapeutic strategy for EMS patients, particularly those with a high number of impaired cytotoxic IDO+NK cells.

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Hong-Lan Song, Tai-Hang Liu, Yong-Heng Wang, Fang-Fang Li, Ling-Ling Ruan, Enoch Appiah Adu-Gyamfi, Si-Chen Hu, Xue-Mei Chen, Yu-Bin Ding, and Li-Juan Fu

The syncytiotrophoblast, derived from cytotrophoblast fusion, is responsible for maternal–fetal exchanges, secretion of pregnancy-related hormones, and fetal defense against pathogens. Inadequate cytotrophoblast fusion can lead to pregnancy disorders, such as preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction. However, little is known about the mechanism of cytotrophoblast fusion in both physiological and pathological pregnancy conditions. In this study, P57kip2 (P57), a cell cycle-dependent kinase inhibitor that negatively regulates the cell cycle, was found to be up-regulated during the process of syncytialization in both primary trophoblast cells and BeWo cells. Co-immunofluorescence with proliferation markers Ki67 and Cyclin-CDK factors further showed that P57 specifically localizes in the post-mitotic cytotrophoblast subtype of the early pregnancy villi. Overexpression of P57 promoted trophoblast syncytialization by arresting the cell cycle at the G1/G0 phase and inhibiting proliferation. Blocking of the cell cycle through a serum starvation culture resulted in an enhancement of cytotrophoblast fusion and the up-regulation of P57. In both spontaneous cytotrophoblast fusion and forskolin-induced BeWo cell fusion models, an initial up-regulation of P57 was observed followed by a subsequent down-regulation. These findings indicate that proper expression of P57 at cytotrophoblast differentiation nodes plays an important role in trophoblast syncytialization.

Free access

Jia-Jun Yu, Hui-Ting Sun, Zhong-Fang Zhang, Ru-Xia Shi, Li-Bing Liu, Wen-Qing Shang, Chun-Yan Wei, Kai-Kai Chang, Jun Shao, Ming-Yan Wang, and Ming-Qing Li

Endometriosis (EMS) is associated with an abnormal immune response to endometrial cells, which can facilitate the implantation and proliferation of ectopic endometrial tissues. It has been reported that human endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) express interleukin (IL)15. The aim of our study was to elucidate whether or not IL15 regulates the cross talk between ESCs and natural killer (NK) cells in the endometriotic milieu and, if so, how this regulation occurs. The ESC behaviors in vitro were verified by Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8), Annexin/PI, and Matrigel invasion assays, respectively. To imitate the local immune microenvironment, the co-culture system between ESCs and NK cells was constructed. The effect of IL15 on NK cells in the co-culture unit was investigated by flow cytometry (FCM). In this study, we found that ectopic endometrium from patients with EMS highly expressed IL15. Rapamycin, an autophagy inducer, decreased the level of IL15 receptors (i.e. IL15Rα and IL2Rβ). IL15 inhibits apoptosis and promotes the invasiveness, viability, and proliferation of ESCs. Meanwhile, a co-culture with ESCs led to a decrease in CD16 on NK cells. In the co-culture system, IL15 treatment downregulated the levels of Granzyme B and IFN-γ in CD16+NK cells, NKG2D in CD56dimCD16-NK cells, and NKP44 in CD56brightCD16-NK cells. On the one hand, these results indicated that IL15 derived from ESCs directly stimulates the growth and invasion of ESCs. On the other hand, IL15 may help the immune escape of ESCs by suppressing the cytotoxic activity of NK cells in the ectopic milieu, thereby facilitating the progression of EMS.

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Xue Zhang, Bo-Yin Tan, Shuang Zhang, Qian Feng, Ying Bai, Shi-Quan Xiao, Xue-Mei Chen, Jun-Lin He, Xue-Qing Liu, Ying-Xiong Wang, Yu-Bin Ding, and Fang-Fang Li

Decidualization of uterine stromal cells plays an important role in the establishment of normal pregnancy. Previous studies have demonstrated that Acyl-CoA binding protein (Acbp) is critical to cellular proliferation, differentiation, mitochondrial functions, and autophagy. The characterization and physiological function of Acbp during decidualization remain largely unknown. In the present study, we conducted the expression profile of Acbp in the endometrium of early pregnant mice. With the occurrence of decidualization, the expression of Acbp gradually increased. Similarly, Acbp expression was also strongly expressed in decidualized cells following artificial decidualization, both in vivo and in vitro. We applied the mice pseudopregnancy model to reveal that the expression of Acbp in the endometrium of early pregnant mice was not induced by embryonic signaling. Moreover, P4 significantly upregulated the expression of Acbp, whereas E2 appeared to have no regulating effect on Acbp expression in uterine stromal cells. Concurrently, we found that interfering with Acbp attenuated decidualization, and that might due to mitochondrial dysfunctions and the inhibition of fatty acid oxidation. The level of autophagy was increased after knocking down Acbp. During induced decidualization, the expression of ACBP was decreased with the treatment of rapamycin (an autophagy inducer), while increased with the addition of Chloroquine (an autophagy inhibitor). Our work suggests that Acbp plays an essential role in the proliferation and differentiation of stromal cells during decidualization through regulating mitochondrial functions, fatty acid oxidation, and autophagy.