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Qiao-Qiao Kong, Guo-Liang Wang, Jin-Song An, Jia Wang, Hao Cheng, Tao Liu, and Jing-He Tan

Postovulatory oocyte aging is one of the major causes for human early pregnancy loss and for a decline in the population of some mammalian species. Thus, the mechanisms for oocyte aging are worth exploring. While it is known that ovulated oocytes age within the oviduct and that female stresses impair embryo development by inducing apoptosis of oviductal cells, it is unknown whether the oviduct and/or female stress would affect postovulatory oocyte aging. By comparing aging characteristics, including activation susceptibility, maturation-promoting factor activity, developmental potential, cytoplasmic fragmentation, spindle/chromosome morphology, gene expression, and cumulus cell apoptosis, this study showed that oocytes aged faster in vivo in restraint-stressed mice than in unstressed mice than in vitro. Our further analysis demonstrated that oviductal cells underwent apoptosis with decreased production of growth factors with increasing time after ovulation, and female restraint facilitated apoptosis of oviductal cells. Furthermore, mating prevented apoptosis of oviductal cells and alleviated oocyte aging after ovulation. In conclusion, the results demonstrated that mouse oviducts underwent apoptosis and facilitated oocyte aging after ovulation; female restraint facilitated oocyte aging while enhancing apoptosis of oviductal cells; and copulation ameliorated oviductal apoptosis and oocyte aging.

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Wen-Qing Shi, Shi-En Zhu, Dong Zhang, Wei-Hua Wang, Guo-Liang Tang, Yun-Peng Hou, and Shu-Jun Tian

This study was designed to examine the effect of Taxol pretreatment on vitrification of porcine oocytes matured in vitro by an open pulled straw (OPS) method. In the first experiment, the effect of Taxol pretreatment and fluorescein diacetate (FDA) staining on parthenogenetic development of oocytes was evaluated. In the second experiment, viability, microtubule organization and embryo development of oocytes were assessed after oocytes were exposed to vitrification/warming solutions or after vitrification with or without Taxol pretreatment. The results showed that Taxol pretreatment and/or FDA staining did not negatively influence the oocyte’s developmental competence after parthenogenetic activation. After being exposed to vitrification/warming solutions, the survival rate (83.3%) of the oocytes was significantly (P < 0.05) reduced as compared with that in the control (100%). Vitrification/warming procedures further reduced the survival rates of oocytes regardless of oocytes being treated with (62.1%) or without (53.8%) Taxol. The proportions of oocytes with normal spindle configuration were significantly reduced after the oocytes were exposed to vitrification/warming solutions (38.5%) or after vitrification with (10.3%) or without (4.1%) Taxol pretreatment as compared with that in control (76.8%). The rates of two-cell-stage (5.6–53.2%) embryos at 48 h and blastocysts (0–3.8%) at 144 h after activation were significantly reduced after exposure to vitrification/warming solutions or after vitrification as compared with control (90.9% and 26.6% respectively). However, the proportion of vitrified oocytes developed to two-cell stage was significantly higher when oocytes were pretreated with (24.3%) than without (5.6%) Taxol. These results indicate that pretreatment of oocytes with Taxol before vitrification helps to reduce the damage induced by vitrification and is a potential way to improve the development of vitrified porcine oocytes.

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Hong-Jie Yuan, Zhi-Bin Li, Xin-Yue Zhao, Guang-Yi Sun, Guo-Liang Wang, Ying-Qi Zhao, Min Zhang, and Jing-He Tan

Mechanisms by which female stress and particularly glucocorticoids impair oocyte competence are largely unclear. Although one study demonstrated that glucocorticoids triggered apoptosis in ovarian cells and oocytes by activating the FasL/Fas system, other studies suggested that they might induce apoptosis through activating other signaling pathways as well. In this study, both in vivo and in vitro experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that glucocorticoids might trigger apoptosis in oocytes and ovarian cells through activating the TNF-α system. The results showed that cortisol injection of female mice (1.) impaired oocyte developmental potential and mitochondrial membrane potential with increased oxidative stress; (2.) induced apoptosis in mural granulosa cells (MGCs) with increased oxidative stress in the ovary; and (3.) activated the TNF-α system in both ovaries and oocytes. Culture with corticosterone induced apoptosis and activated the TNF-α system in MGCs. Knockdown or knockout of TNF-α significantly ameliorated the pro-apoptotic effects of glucocorticoids on oocytes and MGCs. However, culture with corticosterone downregulated TNF-α expression significantly in oviductal epithelial cells. Together, the results demonstrated that glucocorticoids impaired oocyte competence and triggered apoptosis in ovarian cells through activating the TNF-α system and that the effect of glucocorticoids on TNF-α expression might vary between cell types.

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Shi-Yu An, Zi-Fei Liu, El-Samahy M A, Ming-Tian Deng, Xiao-Xiao Gao, Ya-Xu Liang, Chen-Bo Shi, Zhi-Hai Lei, Feng Wang, and Guo-Min Zhang

Long ncRNAs regulate a complex array of fundamental biological processes, while its molecular regulatory mechanism in Leydig cells (LCs) remains unclear. In the present study, we established the lncRNA LOC102176306/miR-1197-3p/peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1 alpha (PPARGC1A) regulatory network by bioinformatic prediction, and investigated its roles in goat LCs. We found that lncRNA LOC102176306 could efficiently bind to miR-1197-3p and regulate PPARGC1A expression in goat LCs. Downregulation of lncRNA LOC102176306 significantly supressed testosterone (T) synthesis and ATP production, decreased the activities of antioxidant enzymes and mitochondrial complex I and complex III, caused the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, and inhibited the proliferation of goat LCs by decreasing PPARGC1A expression, while these effects could be restored by miR-1197-3p inhibitor treatment. In addition, miR-1197-3p mimics treatment significantly alleviated the positive effects of lncRNA LOC102176306 overexpression on T and ATP production, antioxidant capacity and proliferation of goat LCs. Taken together, lncRNA LOC102176306 functioned as a sponge for miR-1197-3p to maintain PPARGC1A expression, thereby affecting the steroidogenesis, cell proliferation and oxidative stress of goat LCs. These findings extend our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of T synthesis, cell proliferation and oxidative stress of LCs.