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Maria Gracia Catalá, Dolors Izquierdo, Svetlana Uzbekova, Roser Morató, Montserrat Roura, Roser Romaguera, Pascal Papillier and Maria Teresa Paramio

The aim of this study was to test the Brilliant Cresyl Blue (BCB) stain to select prepubertal sheep oocytes for in vitro blastocyst production. Oocyte diameter, mitochondrial activity, maturation-promoting factor (MPF) activity and mRNA relative expression (RE) of genes related to metabolism (ATPase Na+/K+ transporting α 1 (ATP1A1) and cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COX1)) and constitutive function of the cell (cytoplasmic polyadenylation-element-binding protein (CPEB) and S100A10) were assessed. Immature oocytes were exposed to different BCB concentrations (13, 26, 39 and 52 μM) and classified according to their cytoplasm colouration as grown BCB+ (blue cytoplasm) and growing BCB− (colourless cytoplasm). Staining oocytes with 13 μM BCB during 60 min allows selection of (BCB+) the largest (123.66 μm) and most competent oocytes to develop to the blastocyst stage (21%) with a higher number of cells (69.71±6.19 s.e.m.) compared with non-stained BCB− oocytes (106.82 μm, 9% and 45.91±3.35 s.e.m. respectively). Mitochondrial activity, assessed by MitoTracker Orange CMTMRos probe, was significantly higher in BCB+ than in BCB− oocytes after in vitro maturation (3369 and 1565 AU respectively). MPF activity was assessed by CDC2 kinase activity assay showing significantly higher activity at metaphase II stage in BCB+ than in BCB− oocytes (1.479±0.09 and 1.184±0.05 optical density respectively). The genes analysed in this work, ATP1A1, COX1, CPEB and S100A10, did not show significant effect in mRNA RE between BCB selected oocytes. In conclusion, BCB stains larger and more competent oocytes to develop to the blastocyst stage with more active mitochondria and MPF activity and higher blastocyst cell number.

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Achraf Adib, Sandrine Freret, Jean-Luc Touze, Didier Lomet, Lionel Lardic, Didier Chesneau, Anthony Estienne, Pascal Papillier, Danielle Monniaux and Maria-Teresa Pellicer-Rubio

The first ovulation induced by male effect in sheep during seasonal anoestrus usually results in the development of a short cycle that can be avoided by progesterone priming before ram introduction. In elucidating the involvement of the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis in the occurrence of short cycles, the effects of progesterone and the time of anoestrus on the development of male-induced preovulatory follicles were investigated in anoestrous ewes using morphological, endocrine and molecular approaches. Ewes were primed with progesterone for 2 (CIDR2) or 12 days (CIDR12) and untreated ewes used as controls during early (April) and late (June) anoestrus. The duration of follicular growth and the lifespan of the male-induced preovulatory follicles were prolonged by ∼1.6 days in CIDR12 ewes compared with the controls. These changes were accompanied by a delay in the preovulatory LH and FSH surges and ovulation. Intra-follicular oestradiol concentration and mRNA levels of LHCGR and STAR in the granulosa and theca cells of the preovulatory follicles were higher in CIDR12 ewes than the control ewes. The expression of mRNA levels of CYP11A1 and CYP17A1 also increased in theca cells of CIDR12 ewes. CIDR2 ewes gave intermediate results. Moreover, ewes ovulated earlier in June than in April, without changes in the duration of follicular growth, but these effects were unrelated to the lifespan of corpus luteum. Our results give the first evidence supporting the positive effect of progesterone priming on the completion of growth and maturation of preovulatory follicles induced by male effect in seasonal anoestrous ewes, thereby preventing short cycles.

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Ophélie Téteau, Manon Jaubert, Alice Desmarchais, Pascal Papillier, Aurélien Binet, Virginie Maillard and Sébastien Elis

Bisphenols, plasticisers used in food containers, can transfer to food. Bisphenol A (BPA) has been described as an endocrine disruptor and consequently banned from the food industry in several countries. It was replaced by a structural analogue, Bisphenol S (BPS). BPA action on the steroidogenesis is one of the mechanisms underlying its adverse effects on the efficiency of female reproduction. This study aimed to determine whether BPS is a safe alternative to BPA regarding GC functions. Antral follicles (2–6 mm), of approximatively 1000 adult ewe ovaries, were aspired and GC purified. For 48 h, ovine GC were treated with BPA or BPS (from 1 nM to 200 µM) and the effects on cell viability, proliferation, steroid production, steroidogenic enzyme expression and signalling pathways were investigated. Dosages at and greater than 100 μM BPA and 10 µM BPS decreased progesterone secretion by 39% (P < 0.001) and 22% (P = 0.040), respectively. BPA and BPS 10 μM and previously mentioned concentrations increased oestradiol secretion two-fold (P < 0.001 and P = 0.082, respectively). Only 100 µM BPA induced a decrease (P < 0.001) in gene expression of the enzymes of steroidogenesis involved in the production of progesterone. BPA reduced MAPK3/1 phosphorylation and ESR1 and ESR2 gene expression, effects that were not observed with BPS. BPA and BPS altered steroidogenesis of ovine GC. Thus, BPS does not appear to be a safe alternative for BPA. Further investigations are required to elucidate BPA and BPS mechanisms of action.