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Shengxian Li, Jia Qi, Yongzhen Tao, Qinling Zhu, Rong Huang, Yu Liao, Jiang Yue, Wei Liu, Hanting Zhao, Huiyong Yin, and Yun Sun

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder in reproductive-age women usually accompanied by lipid metabolic disorders. However, it remains unknown whether arachidonic acid (AA) and its metabolites in follicular fluid (FF) were altered in PCOS patients. This study was intended to measure the levels of AA and its metabolites in the FF of non-obese PCOS patients that underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF) and to explore the possible causes of the alterations. Thirty-nine non-obese women with PCOS and 30 non-obese women without PCOS were enrolled. AA and its metabolites were measured by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. The levels of AA metabolites generated via cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) pathway and cytochrome P450 epoxygenase pathway but not lipoxygenase (LOX) pathway were significantly higher in the FF of PCOS patients. The metabolites generated via COX-2 pathway were significantly correlated with levels of testosterone and fasting insulin in serum. The in vitro study further demonstrated that insulin but not testosterone could promote the IL-1β and hCG-induced COX-2 expression and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) secretion in primary human granulosa cells. In conclusion, there was an elevation in AA metabolites in FF of PCOS patients. Insulin played a pivotal role in the increased AA metabolites generated via COX-2, which could be interpreted as another novel molecular pathophysiological mechanism of PCOS.

Free access

Hong-Jie Yuan, Zhi-Bin Li, Xin-Yue Zhao, Guang-Yi Sun, Guo-Liang Wang, Ying-Qi Zhao, Min Zhang, and Jing-He Tan

Mechanisms by which female stress and particularly glucocorticoids impair oocyte competence are largely unclear. Although one study demonstrated that glucocorticoids triggered apoptosis in ovarian cells and oocytes by activating the FasL/Fas system, other studies suggested that they might induce apoptosis through activating other signaling pathways as well. In this study, both in vivo and in vitro experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that glucocorticoids might trigger apoptosis in oocytes and ovarian cells through activating the TNF-α system. The results showed that cortisol injection of female mice (1.) impaired oocyte developmental potential and mitochondrial membrane potential with increased oxidative stress; (2.) induced apoptosis in mural granulosa cells (MGCs) with increased oxidative stress in the ovary; and (3.) activated the TNF-α system in both ovaries and oocytes. Culture with corticosterone induced apoptosis and activated the TNF-α system in MGCs. Knockdown or knockout of TNF-α significantly ameliorated the pro-apoptotic effects of glucocorticoids on oocytes and MGCs. However, culture with corticosterone downregulated TNF-α expression significantly in oviductal epithelial cells. Together, the results demonstrated that glucocorticoids impaired oocyte competence and triggered apoptosis in ovarian cells through activating the TNF-α system and that the effect of glucocorticoids on TNF-α expression might vary between cell types.

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Yifan Feng, Jia Qi, Xinli Xue, Xinyu Li, Yu Liao, Yun Sun, Yongzhen Tao, Huiyong Yin, Wei Liu, Shengxian Li, and Rong Huang

In Brief

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common cause of anovulatory infertility in women. This study identified changes in free fatty acids profiles in the follicular fluid that may lead to better diagnosis and management of infertility in PCOS women.

Abstract

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a heterogeneous disease characterized by various endocrine/metabolic disorders and impaired reproductive potential. Alterations in oocyte competence are considered potentially causative factors for infertility in PCOS women and analyzing the composition of follicular fluid in these patients may help to identify which changes have the potential to alter oocyte quality. In this study, free fatty acid metabolic signatures in follicular fluid were performed to identify changes that may impact oocyte competence in non-obese PCOS women. Sixty-four non-obese women (32 with PCOS and 32 age- and BMI-matched controls) undergoing in vitro fertilization were recruited. Embryo quality was morphologically assessed. Free fatty acid metabolic profiling in follicular fluid was performed using gas/liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Principal component analysis and orthogonal partial least squares-discriminant analysis models were further constructed. Nine free fatty acids and 24 eicosanoids were identified and several eicosanoids synthesized by the cyclooxygenase pathway were significantly elevated in PCOS patients compared to controls. The combination of PGE2, PGF2α, PGJ2, and TXB2 had an area under the curve of 0.867 (0.775–0.960) for PCOS discrimination. Furthermore, follicular fluid levels of PGE2 and PGJ2 were negatively correlated with high-quality embryo rate in PCOS patients (P < 0.05). Metabolomic analysis revealed that follicular fluid lipidomic profiles undergo changes in non-obese PCOS women, which suggests that identifying changes in important metabolic signatures may give us a better understanding of the pathogenesis of PCOS. Furthermore, elevated PGE2 and PGJ2 concentrations may contribute to impaired oocyte competence in non-obese PCOS patients.