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Barbara Loureiro, Jeremy Block, Mauricio G Favoreto, Silvia Carambula, Kathleen A Pennington, Alan D Ealy and Peter J Hansen

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Rachel L Piersanti, Anthony D Horlock, Jeremy Block, José E P Santos, I Martin Sheldon and John J Bromfield

Metritis is associated with reduced fertility in dairy cows, but the mechanisms are unclear because the disease resolves several weeks before insemination. One hypothesis is that metritis causes persistent changes in granulosa cells during follicle development, which might be evident in the transcriptome of granulosa cells from dominant follicles weeks after parturition. To test this hypothesis, we collected the follicular fluid and granulosa cells from dominant follicles 63 days post partum from cows previously diagnosed with metritis, at least 6 weeks after resolution of the disease and from cows not diagnosed with metritis (control cows). Bacterial lipopolysaccharide was detected in follicular fluid, and concentrations were associated with follicular fluid IL-8 and glucose concentrations. Transcriptome analysis using RNAseq revealed 177 differentially expressed genes in granulosa cells collected from cows that had metritis compared with control cows. The most upregulated genes were ITLN1, NCF2, CLRN3, FSIP2 and ANKRD17, and the most downregulated genes were ACSM1, NR4A2, GHITM, CBARP and NR1I3. Pathway analysis indicated that the differentially expressed genes were involved with immune function, cell–cell communication, cell cycle and cellular metabolism. Predicted upstream regulators of the differentially expressed genes included NFκB, IL-21 and lipopolysaccharide, which are associated with infection and immunity. Our data provide evidence for a persistent effect of metritis on the transcriptome of granulosa cells in ovarian follicles after the resolution of disease.

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Barbara Loureiro, Jeremy Block, Mauricio G Favoreto, Silvia Carambula, Kathleen A Pennington, Alan D Ealy and Peter J Hansen

Exposure of bovine conceptuses to colony-stimulating factor 2 (CSF2) from days 5 to 7 of development can increase the percentage of transferred conceptuses that develop to term. The purpose of this experiment was to understand the mechanism by which CSF2 increases embryonic and fetal survival. Conceptuses were produced in vitro in the presence or absence of 10 ng/ml CSF2 from days 5 to 7 after insemination, transferred into cows, and flushed from the uterus at day 15 of pregnancy. There was a tendency (P=0.07) for the proportion of cows with a recovered conceptus to be greater for those receiving a CSF2-treated conceptus (35% for control versus 66% for CSF2). Antiviral activity in uterine flushings, a measure of the amount of interferon-τ (IFNT2) secreted by the conceptus, tended to be greater for cows receiving CSF2-treated conceptuses than for cows receiving control conceptuses. This difference approached significance when only cows with detectable antiviral activity were considered (P=0.07). In addition, CSF2 increased mRNA for IFNT2 (P=0.08) and keratin 18 (P<0.05) in extraembryonic membranes. Among a subset of filamentous conceptuses that were analyzed by microarray hybridization, there was no effect of CSF2 on gene expression in the embryonic disc or extraembryonic membranes. Results suggest that the increase in calving rate caused by CSF2 treatment involves, in part, more extensive development of extraembryonic membranes and capacity of the conceptus to secrete IFNT2 at day 15 of pregnancy.

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Anthony D Horlock, Rachel L Piersanti, Rosabel Ramirez-Hernandez, Fahong Yu, Zhengxin Ma, KwangCheol C Jeong, Martin J D Clift, Jeremy Block, José E P Santos, John J Bromfield and I Martin Sheldon

Infection of the postpartum uterus with pathogenic bacteria is associated with infertility months later in dairy cattle. However, it is unclear whether these bacterial infections lead to long-term changes in the reproductive tract that might help explain this infertility. Here we tested the hypothesis that infusion of pathogenic bacteria into the uterus leads to changes in the transcriptome of the reproductive tract 3 months later. We used virgin Holstein heifers to avoid potential confounding effects of periparturient problems, lactation, and negative energy balance. Animals were infused intrauterine with endometrial pathogenic bacteria Escherichia coli and Trueperella pyogenes (n = 4) and compared with control animals (n = 6). Three months after infusion, caruncular and intercaruncular endometrium, isthmus and ampulla of the oviduct, and granulosa cells from ovarian follicles >8 mm diameter were profiled by RNA sequencing. Bacterial infusion altered the transcriptome of all the tissues when compared with control. Most differentially expressed genes were tissue specific, with 109 differentially expressed genes unique to caruncular endometrium, 57 in intercaruncular endometrium, 65 in isthmus, 298 in ampulla, and 83 in granulosa cells. Surprisingly, despite infusing bacteria into the uterus, granulosa cells had more predicted upstream regulators of differentially expressed genes than all the other tissues combined. In conclusion, there were changes in the transcriptome of the endometrium, oviduct and even granulosa cells, 3 months after intrauterine infusion of pathogenic bacteria. These findings imply that long-term changes throughout the reproductive tract could contribute to infertility after bacterial infections of the uterus.