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Hui Chen, Jing Hui Guo, Xiao Hu Zhang, and Hsiao Chang Chan

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most frequent causes of female infertility, featured by abnormal hormone profile, chronic oligo/anovulation, and presence of multiple cystic follicles in the ovary. However, the mechanism underlying the abnormal folliculogenesis remains obscure. We have previously demonstrated that CFTR, a cAMP-dependent Cl and HCO3 conducting anion channel, is expressed in the granulosa cells and its expression is downregulated in PCOS rat models and human patients. In this study, we aimed to investigate the possible involvement of downregulation of CFTR in the impaired follicle development in PCOS using two rat PCOS models and primary culture of granulosa cells. Our results indicated that the downregulation of CFTR in the cystic follicles was accompanied by reduced expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), in rat PCOS models. In addition, knockdown or inhibition of CFTR in granulosa cell culture resulted in reduced cell viability and downregulation of PCNA. We further demonstrated that CFTR regulated both basal and FSH-stimulated granulosa cell proliferation through the HCO3 /sAC/PKA pathway leading to ERK phosphorylation and its downstream target cyclin D2 (Ccnd2) upregulation. Reduced ERK phosphorylation and CCND2 were found in ovaries of rat PCOS model compared with the control. This study suggests that CFTR is required for normal follicle development and that its downregulation in PCOS may inhibit granulosa cell proliferation, resulting in abnormal follicle development in PCOS.

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Hu Gao, Bin Chen, Hui Luo, Bo Weng, Xiangwei Tang, Yao Chen, Anqi Yang, and Maoliang Ran

Sertoli cells are indispensable for normal spermatogenesis, and increasing evidence has shown that miRNAs participate in the regulation of Sertoli cell growth. However, the functions and regulatory mechanisms of miRNAs in Sertoli cells of domestic animals have not been fully investigated. In the present study, we mainly investigated the regulatory roles of miR-499 in immature porcine Sertoli cells. The results showed that miR-499 was mainly located in the basement section of seminiferous tubules of prepubertal porcine testicular tissue. Overexpression of miR-499 promoted cell proliferation and inhibited apoptosis, whereas miR-499 inhibition resulted in the opposite effect. The PTEN gene was directly targeted by miR-499, and the expression of mRNA and protein was also negatively regulated by miR-499 in immature porcine Sertoli cells. siRNA-induced PTEN knockdown resulted in a similar effect as an overexpression of miR-499 and abolished the effects of miR-499 inhibition on immature porcine Sertoli cells. Moreover, both miR-499 overexpression and the PTEN knockdown activated the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, whereas inhibition of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway caused immature porcine Sertoli cell apoptosis and inhibited cell proliferation. Overall, miR-499 promotes proliferation and inhibits apoptosis in immature porcine Sertoli cells through the PI3K/AKT pathway by targeting the PTEN gene. This study provides novel insights into the effects of miR-499 in spermatogenesis through the regulation of immature Sertoli cell proliferation and apoptosis.

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Wen-jing Guo, Yi-cheng Wang, Yong-dan Ma, Zhi-hui Cui, Li-xue Zhang, Li Nie, Xue-qin Zhang, Mei-jiao Wang, Jin-hu Zhang, Dong-zhi Yuan, and Li-min Yue

The incidence of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) due to high-fat diet (HFD) consumption has been increasing significantly. However, the mechanism by which a HFD contributes to the pathogenesis of PCOS has not been elucidated. Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) is a key protein that regulates cholesterol metabolism. Our previous study revealed abnormally high PCSK9 levels in serum from patients with PCOS and in serum and hepatic and ovarian tissues from PCOS model mice, suggesting that PCSK9 is involved in the pathogenesis of PCOS. However, the factor that induces high PCSK9 expression in PCOS remains unclear. In this study, Pcsk9 knockout mice were used to further explore the role of PCSK9 in PCOS. We also studied the effects of a HFD on the expression of PCSK9 and sterol regulatory element-binding protein 2 (SREBP2), a regulator of cholesterol homeostasis and a key transcription factor that regulates the expression of PCSK9, and the roles of these proteins in PCOS pathology. Our results indicated HFD may play an important role by inducing abnormally high PCSK9 expression via SREBP2 upregulation. We further investigated the effects of an effective SREBP inhibitor, fatostain, and found that it could reduce HFD-induced PCSK9 expression, ameliorate hyperlipidemia and improve follicular development in PCOS model mice. Our study thus further elucidates the important role of an HFD in the pathogenesis of PCOS and provides a new clue in the prevention and treatment of this disorder.

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Fenfen Xie, Junhui Zhang, Muxin Zhai, Yajing Liu, Hui Hu, Zhen Yu, Junqiang Zhang, Shuai Lin, Dan Liang, and Yunxia Cao

Emerging evidence has demonstrated that melatonin (MT) plays a crucial role in regulating mammalian reproductive functions. It has been reported that MT has a protective effect on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). However, the protective mechanisms of MT remain poorly understood. This study aims to explore the effect of MT on ovarian function in PCOS and to elucidate the relevant molecular mechanisms in vivo and in vitro. We first analysed MT expression levels in the follicular fluid of PCOS patients. A significant reduction in MT expression levels was noted in PCOS patients. Intriguingly, reduced MT levels correlated with serum testosterone and inflammatory cytokine levels in follicular fluid. Moreover, we confirmed the protective function of MT through regulating autophagy in a DHEA-induced PCOS rat model. Autophagy was activated in the ovarian tissue of the PCOS rat model, whereas additional MT inhibited autophagy by increasing PI3K−-Akt pathway expression. In addition, serum-free testosterone, inflammatory and apoptosis indexes were reduced after MT supplementation. Furthermore, we also found that MT suppressed autophagy and apoptosis by activating the PI3K-Akt pathway in the DHEA-exposed human granulosa cell line KGN. Our study showed that MT ameliorated ovarian dysfunction by regulating autophagy in DHEA-induced PCOS via the PI3K-Akt pathway, revealing a potential therapeutic drug target for PCOS.