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Free access

Meng-Ling Liu, Jing-Lei Wang, Jie Wei, Lin-Lin Xu, Mei Yu, Xiao-Mei Liu, Wen-Li Ruan, and Jia-Xiang Chen

Tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate (TOCP) has been widely used as plasticizers, plastic softeners, and flame retardants in industry and reported to have a deleterious effect on the male reproductive system in animals besides delayed neurotoxicity. Our preliminary results found that TOCP could disrupt the seminiferous epithelium in the testis and inhibit spermatogenesis, but the precise mechanism is yet to be elucidated. This study shows that TOCP inhibited viability of rat spermatogonial stem cells in a dose-dependent manner. TOCP could not lead to cell cycle arrest in the cells; the mRNA levels of p21, p27, p53, and cyclin D1 in the cells were also not affected by TOCP. Meanwhile, TOCP did not induce apoptosis of rat spermatogonial stem cells. After treatment with TOCP, however, both LC3-II and the ratio of LC3-II/LC3-I were markedly increased; autophagy proteins ATG5 and beclin 1 were also increased after treatment with TOCP, indicating that TOCP could induce autophagy in the cells. Ultrastructural observation under the transmission electron microscopy indicated that autophagic vesicles in the cytoplasm containing extensively degraded organelles such as mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum increased significantly after the cells were treated with TOCP. In summary, we have shown that TOCP can inhibit viability of rat spermatogonial stem cells and induce autophagy of the cells, without affecting cell cycle and apoptosis.

Free access

Qi-Tao Huang, Oksana Shynlova, Mark Kibschull, Mei Zhong, Yan-Hong Yu, Stephen G Matthews, and Stephen J Lye

Uterine tissues contain the efflux transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp, encoded by Abcb1a/1b gene), but little is known about how it changes through gestation. Our aim was to investigate the expression profile and cellular localization of P-gp in the pregnant, laboring and post-partum (PP) rat uterus. We propose that during pregnancy the mechanical and hormonal stimuli play a role in regulating myometrial Abcb1a/1b/P-gp. Samples from bilaterally and unilaterally pregnant rats were collected throughout gestation, during labor, and PP (n=4–6/gestational day). RNA and protein were isolated and subjected to quantitative PCR and immunoblotting; P-gp transcript and protein were localized by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. Expression of Abcb1a/1b gene and membrane P-gp protein in uterine tissue (1) increased throughout gestation, peaked at term (GD19-21) and dropped during labor (GD23L); and (2) was upregulated only in gravid but not in empty horn of unilaterally pregnant rats. (3) The drop of Abcb1a/1b mRNA on GD23 was prevented by artificial maintenance of elevated progesterone (P4) levels in late gestation; (4) injection of the P4 receptor antagonist RU486 on GD19 caused a significant decrease in Abcb1 mRNA levels. (5) In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry indicated that Abcb1/P-gp is absent from myometrium throughout gestation; (6) was expressed exclusively by uterine microvascular endothelium (at early gestation) and luminal epithelium (at mid and late gestation), but was undetectable during labor. In conclusion, ABC transporter protein P-gp in pregnant uterus is hormonally and mechanically regulated. However, its substrate(s) and precise function in these tissues during pregnancy remains to be determined.

Free access

Wang Han-zheng, Lu Shu-hua, Shen Wei-xiong, Sun Zhi-da, Zhou Wei, Wu Yu-fen, and Zhou Mei-rong

Summary. Cell suspensions were prepared from human corpora lutea obtained during the mid-luteal phase. Progesterone production was assessed after short-term incubation of luteal cell suspensions. Luteal cells were very sensitive to hCG, the concentration required for 50% maximum response being 0·01 i.u./ml, and the response was 5 times higher than the basal production.

Oestradiol (1–100 μm) induced a significant dose-related decrease in both basal and hCG-stimulated progesterone production. The A-nor steroidal compounds anordrin and AF-45 reduced hCG-stimulated progesterone production only at the high concentration of 100 μm. The ED50 values were approximately 3 μm, 75 μm and 100 μm for oestradiol, AF-45 and anordrin respectively. Anordrin showed no significant effects on basal progesterone production. In addition, oestradiol markedly inhibited the activity of 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in luteal cells, expressed by the conversion of pregnenolone to progesterone, but the inhibitory effects of anordrin and AF-45 were negligible or relatively low.

The effects of anordrin and AF-45 were different from those of oestradiol on progesterone production by human luteal cells in vitro, indicating that neither substance is likely to be a useful luteolytic agent in women.

Keywords: A-nor steroid; oestradiol; luteal cells; progesterone; 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase; man

Free access

Shuai Lin, Yu-Yuan Zhu, Wei Hu, Yan Yang, Jia-Mei Luo, Shi-Jun Hu, and Zeng-Ming Yang

Decidualization is required for the successful establishment of pregnancy in rodents and primates. Fatty acid desaturase 3 (Fads3) belongs to the fatty acid desaturase family, which is a crucial enzyme for highly unsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis. However, the expression, regulation and function of Fads3 during early pregnancy in mice are still unknown. In this study, we examined Fads3 expression, regulation and function during mouse decidualization. The expression of Fads3 is detected in the subluminal stromal cells at implantation site on day 5 of pregnancy, but not at inter-implantation site and in day 5 pseudopregnant uteri. Compared to delayed implantation, Fads3 is strongly expressed after delayed implantation is activated by estrogen treatment. From days 6 to 8, Fads3 mRNA signals are significantly detected in the decidua. In ovariectomized mice, estrogen significantly stimulates Fads3 expression. However, estrogen has no effect on Fads3 expression in ovariectomized ERα-deficient mice, suggesting that estrogen regulation on Fads3 expression is ERα dependent. When ovariectomized mice were treated with progesterone, Fads3 expression is significantly increased by progesterone. Progesterone stimulation on Fads3 expression is also detected in cultured stromal cells, which is abrogated by RU486 treatment. These data indicate that progesterone upregulation on Fads3 expression is progesterone receptor-dependent. Fads3 knockdown by siRNA reduces in vitro decidualization of mouse stromal cells. Taken together, Fads3 may play an important role during mouse decidualization.

Free access

Linjun Hong, Kun Han, Kejia Wu, Ruize Liu, Ji Huang, Joan K Lunney, Shuhong Zhao, and Mei Yu

It is one of the important events that trophoblast cells within the placental folds differentiate into two types that differ in cell shape during placental development in pigs. This study showed that all the trophoblast cells were of similar shape between Yorkshire and Chinese Meishan pigs on day 26 of gestation; thereafter, the trophoblast cells located at the top of the placental folds became high columnar, while those cells at the base of the placental folds were cuboidal on day 50 of gestation. Additionally, on day 95 of gestation, all the trophoblast cells in Meishan pigs became cuboidal, but the trophoblast cells located at the top of the placental folds in Yorkshire pigs still remained columnar. The membranous E-cadherin and β-catenin were strongly co-expressed by the high columnar trophoblast cells but very weakly expressed by those cuboidal cells. Consistently, the expression pattern of ZEB2, the E-cadherin repressor, was inversely correlated with that of E-cadherin in the two types of trophoblast cells in the two breeds. Furthermore, electrophoretic mobility shift assays demonstrated the binding of ZEB2 to the E-cadherin promoter in nuclear extracts from porcine placental tissue. These findings suggest a ZEB2-dependent mechanism of trophoblast cell differentiation during placental development in pigs.

Free access

Mei-rong Zhao, Wei Qiu, Yu-xia Li, Zhi-bin Zhang, Dong Li, and Yan-ling Wang

Transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) has been shown to be a multifunctional cytokine required for embryonic development and regulation of trophoblast cell behaviors. In the present study, a non-transformed cell-line representative of normal human trophoblast (NPC) was used to examine the effect of TGFβ1 on trophoblast cell adhesion and invasion. In vitro assay showed that TGFβ1 could significantly promote intercellular adhesion, while inhibiting cell invasion across the collagen I-coated filter. Reverse transcription (RT)-PCR and gelatin zymography demonstrated that TGFβ1 evidently repressed the mRNA expression and proenzyme production of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9, but exerted no effect on mRNA expression and secretion of MMP-2. On the other hand, both the mRNA and protein expression of epithelial-cadherin and β-catenin were obviously upregulated by TGFβ1 in dose-dependent fashion, as revealed by RT-PCR and western-blot analysis. What is more, one of the critical TGFβ signaling molecules – Smad2 was notably phosphorylated in TGFβ1-treated NPC cells. The data indicates that cell invasion and adhesion are coordinated processes in human trophoblasts and that there exists paracrine regulation on adhesion molecules and invasion-associated enzymes in human placenta.

Restricted access

Yan Sun, Yifen Yang, Ziran Jiang, Feiyu wang, Kun Han, Linjun Hong, Jianhua Cao, and Mei Yu

In brief

Transforming the endometrial luminal epithelium (LE) into a receptive state is a requisite event for successful embryo implantation. This study suggests the role of a transcription factor in regulating endometrial LE receptivity.


The endometrial luminal epithelium (LE) undergoes extensive remodeling during implantation to establish receptivity of the uterus in response to the conceptus signals, such as interleukin 1β (IL1B). But the mechanisms remain to be fully understood. This study investigated the role of CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein β (C/EBP-β) in regulating pig endometrial LE receptivity. Our results showed that C/EBP-β was expressed and activated only in the endometrial LE in an implantation-dependent manner. In addition, C/EBP-β was highly activated at the pre-attachment stage compared to the attachment stage, and its activation was correlated with the expression of IL1B-dependent extracellular signal-regulated kinases1/2-p90 ribosomal S6 kinase signaling axis. Subsequent chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-sequencing analysis revealed that the binding of C/EBP-β within the promoter was positively associated with the transcription of genes related to cell remodeling. One such gene is matrix metalloproteinase 8 (MMP8), which is responsible for extracellular matrix degradation. The expression of MMP8 was abundant at the pre-attachment stage but dramatically declined at the attachment stage in the endometrial LE. Consistent with C/EBP-β, the expression and activation of MMP8 were limited to the endometrial LE in an implantation-dependent manner. Using ChIP-qPCR and electrophoresis mobility shift assay approaches, we demonstrated that C/EBP-β regulated the expression of the MMP8 gene during implantation. Furthermore, we detected that MMP8 and one of its substrates, type II collagen, showed a mutually exclusive expression pattern in pig endometrial LE during implantation. Our findings indicate that C/EBP-β plays a role in pig endometrial LE receptivity by regulating cell remodeling-related genes, such as MMP8, in response to conceptus signals during implantation.

Restricted access

Xue-Yun Qin, Hui-Hui Shen, Xin-Yan Zhang, Xing Zhang, Feng Xie, Wen-Jun Wang, Yu Xiong, Jie Mei, and Ming-Qing Li

Infiltration and residence of decidual macrophage (dM) are of great significance to pregnancy maintenance for its role in angiogenesis, placental development and inducing immune tolerance. Besides, hypoxia has now been acknowledged as an important biological event at maternal-fetal interface in the first trimester. However, whether and how hypoxia regulates biofunctions of dM remains elusive. Herein, we observed increased expression of C-C motif chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) and residence of macrophages in decidua when comparing to secretory-phase endometrium. Moreover, hypoxia treatment on stromal cells improved migration and adhesion of dM. Mechanistically, these effects might be mediated by upregulated CCL2 and adhesion molecules (especially ICAM2 and ICAM5) on stromal cells in the presence of endogenous vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGFA) in hypoxia. These findings were also verified by recombinant VEGFA and indirect coculture, indicating the interaction between stromal cells and dM in hypoxia condition may facilitate dM recruitment and residence. In conclusion, VEGFA derived from hypoxic environment may manipulate CCL2/CCR2 and adhesion molecules to enhance the interactions between dM and stromal cells and thus contribute to the enrichment of macrophages in decidua during early normal pregnancy.

Open access

Ying Huang, Jiang-Man Gao, Chun-Mei Zhang, Hong-Cui Zhao, Yue Zhao, Rong Li, Yang Yu, and Jie Qiao

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common reproductive disorder that has many characteristic features including hyperandrogenemia, insulin resistance and obesity, which may have significant implications for pregnancy outcomes and long-term health of women. Daughters born to PCOS mothers constitute a high-risk group for metabolic and reproductive derangements, but no report has described potential growth and metabolic risk factors for such female offspring. Hence, we used a mouse model of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)-induced PCOS to study the mechanisms underlying the pathology of PCOS by investigating the growth, developmental characteristics, metabolic indexes and expression profiles of key genes of offspring born to the models. We found that the average litter size was significantly smaller in the DHEA group, and female offspring had sustained higher body weight, increased body fat and triglyceride content in serum and liver; they also exhibited decreased energy expenditure, oxygen consumption and impaired glucose tolerance. Genes related to glucolipid metabolism such as Pparγ, Acot1/2, Fgf21, Pdk4 and Inhbb were upregulated in the liver of the offspring in DHEA group compared with those in controls, whereas Cyp17a1 expression was significantly decreased. However, the expression of these genes was not detected in male offspring. Our results show that female offspring in DHEA group exhibit perturbed growth and glucolipid metabolism that were not observed in male offspring.

Free access

Cheng Jin, Yan Zhang, Zhi-Peng Wang, Xiu-Xia Wang, Tie-Cheng Sun, Xiao-Yu Li, Ji-Xin Tang, Jin-Mei Cheng, Jian Li, Su-Ren Chen, Shou-Long Deng, and Yi-Xun Liu

Spermatogenesis is crucial for male fertility and is therefore tightly controlled by a variety of epigenetic regulators. However, the function of enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) in spermatogenesis and the molecular mechanisms underlying its activity remain poorly defined. Here, we demonstrate that deleting EZH2 promoted spermatogonial differentiation and apoptosis. EZH2 is expressed in spermatogonia, spermatocytes and round and elongated spermatids from stage 9 to 11 but not in leptotene and zygotene spermatocytes. Knocking down Ezh2 in vitro using a lentivirus impaired self-renewal in spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), and the conditional knockout of Ezh2 in spermatogonial progenitors promoted precocious spermatogonial differentiation. EZH2 functions to balance self-renewal and differentiation in spermatogonia by suppressing NEUROG3 and KIT via a direct interaction that is independent of its histone methyltransferase activity. Moreover, deleting Ezh2 enhanced the activation of CASP3 in spermatids, resulting in reduced spermatozoa production. Collectively, these data demonstrate that EZH2 plays a nonclassical role in the regulation of spermatogonial differentiation and apoptosis in murine spermatogenesis.