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Hugo H Ortega, Natalia R Salvetti and Vasantha Padmanabhan

Steroid hormones play an important role in reproduction and the receptors through which they signal change in a developmental time, follicle stage, and cell-specific manner. Disruption in steroid receptor expression affects follicle formation and differentiation. In this study, using prenatal testosterone (T) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT)-treated female sheep as model systems, we tested the hypothesis that prenatal androgen excess disrupts the developmental ontogeny of ovarian steroid receptor protein expression. Pregnant Suffolk ewes were injected twice weekly with T propionate or DHT propionate (a non-aromatizable androgen) in cottonseed oil from days 30 to 90 of gestation. Changes in ovarian estrogen receptors (ER; ESR1, ESR2), androgen receptor (AR) and progesterone receptor (PGR) proteins were determined at fetal (days 90 and 140), postpubertal (10 months), and adult (21 months; only prenatal T-treated sheep studied) ages by immunohistochemistry. Prenatal T and DHT treatment induced selective increase in AR but not ER or PGR expression in the stroma and granulosa cells of fetal days 90 and 140 ovaries. An increase in ESR1 and decrease in ESR2 immunostaining coupled with increased AR expression were evident in granulosa cells of antral follicles of 10- and 21-month-old prenatal T but not DHT-treated females (analyzed only at 10 months). These findings provide evidence that an early increase in ovarian AR is the first step in the altered ovarian developmental trajectory of prenatal T-treated females, and manifestations of postnatal ovarian dysfunction are likely facilitated via altered equilibrium of antral follicular granulosa cell ER/AR protein expression.

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Hugo H Ortega, Belkis E Marelli, Florencia Rey, Ayelen N Amweg, Pablo U Díaz, Matías L Stangaferro and Natalia R Salvetti

Cystic ovarian disease (COD) is one of the main causes of reproductive failure in cattle and causes severe economic loss to the dairy farm industry because it increases both days open in the post partum period and replacement rates due to infertility. This disease is the consequence of the failure of a mature follicle to ovulate at the time of ovulation in the estrous cycle. This review examines the evidence for the role of altered steroid and gonadotropin signaling systems and the proliferation/apoptosis balance in the ovary with cystic structures. This evidence suggests that changes in the expression of ovarian molecular components associated with these cellular mechanisms could play a fundamental role in the pathogenesis of COD. The evidence also shows that gonadotropin receptor expression in bovine cystic follicles is altered, which suggests that changes in the signaling system of gonadotropins could play a fundamental role in the pathogenesis of conditions characterized by altered ovulation, such as COD. Ovaries from animals with COD exhibit a disrupted steroid receptor pattern with modifications in the expression of coregulatory proteins. These changes in the pathways of endocrine action would trigger the changes in proliferation and apoptosis underlying the aberrant persistence of follicular cysts.

Free Spanish abstract: A Spanish translation of this abstract is freely available at http://www.reproduction-online.org/content/149/6/R251/suppl/DC1.

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Natalia R Salvetti, Natalia S Alfaro, Melisa M L Velázquez, Ayelen N Amweg, Valentina Matiller, Pablo U Díaz and Hugo H Ortega

Cystic ovarian disease (COD) is an important cause of infertility in cattle. The altered follicular dynamics and cellular differentiation observed in COD may be mediated through a disruption of the expression of steroid receptors and their associated transcriptional cofactors. The aim of this study was to determine the protein expression profiles of ESR1, ESR2, PGR, AR, NCOA3, NCOR2, and PHB2 (REA) in ovarian follicles in an experimental model of COD induced by the administration of ACTH. Ovaries were collected and follicles were dissected from heifers during the follicular phase (control) or from heifers treated with ACTH to induce the formation of ovarian follicular cysts. Ovaries were fixed, sectioned, and stained immunohistochemically for steroid receptors and the associated transcription factors. The relative expression of ESR1 was similar in follicular cysts and in tertiary follicles from both control and cystic cows and was significantly higher than in secondary follicles. The expression of ESR2 in the granulosa was higher in cystic follicles. No differences were seen for PGR. The expression of androgen receptor was significantly increased in tertiary follicles with lower immunostaining in cysts. The expression of NCOA3 was observed in the granulosa and theca with a significantly increased expression in the theca interna of cystic follicles. The highest levels of NCOR2 expression in granulosa, theca interna, and theca externa were observed in cysts. In granulosa cells, NCOR2 levels increase progressively as follicles mature and the treatment had no effect. In summary, ovaries from animals with induced COD exhibited altered steroid receptor expression compared with normal animals, as well as changes in the expression of their regulators. It is reasonable to suggest that in conditions characterized by altered ovulation and follicular persistence, such as COD, changes in the intra-ovarian expression of these proteins could play a role in their pathogenesis.

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Pablo U Díaz, Gustavo J Hein, Eduardo M Belotti, Fernanda M Rodríguez, Florencia Rey, Ayelén N Amweg, Valentina Matiller, María E Baravalle, Hugo H Ortega and Natalia R Salvetti

Cystic ovarian disease (COD) is an important cause of subfertility in dairy cattle. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), mainly BMP2, BMP4 and BMP6, play a key role in female fertility. In this study, we hypothesized that an altered BMP system is associated with ovarian alterations contributing to COD pathogenesis. Therefore, we examined the expression of BMP2, BMP4 and BMP6 and BMP receptor 1B (BMPR1B) in the ovaries of animals with spontaneous or ACTH-induced COD, as well as during the development of the disease, in a model of follicular persistence induced by low doses of progesterone (at 5, 10 and 15 days of follicular persistence). Results showed changes in BMP2, BMP4 and BMP6 expression during folliculogenesis, in granulosa and theca cells in the COD groups, as well as at different stages of follicular persistence. Results also showed changes in BMPR1B expression in developing follicles in animals with COD, and at the initial stages of follicular persistence (P5). Comparison between groups showed significant differences, mainly in BMP4 and BMP6 expression, in granulosa and theca cells of different follicular categories. The expression of these BMPs also increased in cystic and persistent follicles, in relation to antral follicles of the control group. BMPR1B showed high expression in cystic follicles. Together, these results may indicate an alteration in BMPs, especially in BMP4 and BMP6, as well as in BMPR1B, which occurs early in folliculogenesis and incipiently during the development of COD, which could be a major cause of recurrence of this disease in cattle.

Free Spanish abstract: A Spanish translation of this abstract is freely available at http://www.reproduction-online.org/content/152/4/333.abstract.