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Kuan-Hao Tsui, Peng-Hui Wang, Li-Te Lin, and Chia-Jung Li

Because ovarian granulosa cells are essential for oocyte maturation and development, we validated human granulosa HO23 cells to evaluate the ability of the DHEA to prevent cell death after starvation. The present study was aimed to investigate whether DHEA could protect against starvation-induced apoptosis and necroptosis in human oocyte granulosa HO23 cells. The starvation was induced by treatment of serum-free (SF) medium for 4 h in vitro. Starvation-induced mitochondrial depolarization, cytochrome c release and caspase-3 activation were largely prevented by DHEA in HO23 cells. We found that treatment with DHEA can restore starvation-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and mitochondrial membrane potential imbalance. In addition, treatment of DHEA prevents cell death via upregulation of cytochrome c and downregulation of BAX in mitochondria. Most importantly, DHEA is ameliorated to mitochondrial function mediated through the decrease in mitochondrial ROS, maintained mitochondrial morphology, and enhancing the ability of cell proliferation and ROS scavenging. Our present data strongly indicate that DHEA reduces programmed cell death (apoptosis and necroptosis) in granulosa HO23 cells through multiple interactions with the mitochondrion-dependent programmed cell death pathway. Taken together, our data suggest that the presence of DHEA could be beneficial to protect human oocyte granulosa HO23 cells under in vitro culture conditions during various assisted reproductive technology (ART) programs.

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Meng-Chieh Hsu, Jyun-Yuan Wang, Yue-Jia Lee, De-Shien Jong, Kuan-Hao Tsui, and Chih-Hsien Chiu

Kisspeptin acts as an upstream regulator of the hypothalamus–pituitary–gonad axis, which is one of the main regulatory systems for mammalian reproduction. Kiss1 and its receptor Kiss1r (also known as G protein-coupled receptor 54 (Gpr54)) are expressed in various organs, but their functions are not well understood. The purpose of this study was to investigate the expression profiles and functions of kisspeptin and KISS1R in the reproductive tissues of imprinting control region mice. To identify the expression pattern and location of kisspeptin and KISS1R in gonads, testes and ovarian tissues were examined by immunohistochemical or immunofluorescent staining. Kisspeptin and KISS1R were expressed primarily in Leydig cells and seminiferous tubules respectively. KISS1R was specifically localized in the acrosomal region of spermatids and mature spermatozoa. Kisspeptin, but not KISS1R, was expressed in the cumulus–oocyte complex and oviductal epithelium of ovarian and oviductal tissues. The sperm intracellular calcium concentrations significantly increased in response to treatment with kisspeptin 10 in Fluo-4-loaded sperm. The IVF rates decreased after treatment of sperm with the kisspeptin antagonist peptide 234. These results suggest that kisspeptin and KISS1R might be involved in the fertilization process in the female reproductive tract. In summary, this study indicates that kisspeptin and KISS1R are expressed in female and male gametes, respectively, and in mouse reproductive tissues. These data strongly suggest that the kisspeptin system could regulate mammalian fertilization and reproduction.