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Free access

Wen-Hui Zhou, Lin Dong, Mei-Rong Du, Xiao-Yong Zhu, and Da-Jin Li

Immune regulation during pregnancy is complex, and thus an optimal therapy for pregnancy complications is always a big challenge to reproductive medicine. Cyclosporin A (CsA), a potent immunosuppressant, prevents rejection of allografts by hosts, but little is known about the modulating effect of CsA on the materno-fetal relationship. Here, pregnant CBA/J females mated with DBA/2 males as an abortion-prone model were administered with CsA on day 4.5 of gestation, and the pregnant CBA/J females mated with BALB/c males were established as successful pregnancy control. It was demonstrated that administration of CsA at the window of implantation significantly up-regulated the expression of CTLA-4, while down-regulating the levels of CD80, CD86, and CD28 at the materno-fetal interface in the CBA/J×DBA/2 abortion-prone matings, and the embryo resorption rate of the abortion-prone matings reduced significantly after CsA treatment, implying that modulation of costimulatory molecule expression by CsA might contribute to preventing the fetus from maternal immune attack. In addition, treatment with CsA induced enhanced growth and reduced cell apoptosis of the murine trophoblast cells. Together, these findings indicate that CsA has a beneficial effect on the materno-fetal interface in abortion-prone matings, leading to a pregnancy outcome improvement, which might provide new therapeutics for spontaneous pregnancy wastage.

Free access

Haolin Zhang, Ming Yi, Yan Zhang, Hongyan Jin, Wenxin Zhang, Jingjing Yang, Liying Yan, Rong Li, Yue Zhao, and Jie Qiao

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex endocrine and metabolic disorder with unclear etiology and unsatisfactory management. Effects of diets on the phenotype of PCOS were not fully understood. In the present study, we applied 45 and 60% high-fat diets (HFDs) on a rat model of PCOS induced by postnatal DHEA injection. We found that both DHEA and DHEA+HFDs rats exhibited reproductive abnormalities, including hyperandrogenism, irregular cycles and polycystic ovaries. The addition of HFDs, especially 60% HFDs, exaggerated morphological changes of ovaries and a number of metabolic changes, including increased body weight and body fat content, impaired glucose tolerance and increased serum insulin levels. Results from qPCR showed that DHEA-induced increased expression of hypothalamic androgen receptor and LH receptor were reversed by the addition of 60% HFDs. In contrast, the ovarian expression of LH receptor and insulin receptor mRNA was upregulated only with the addition of 60% HFDs. These findings indicated that DHEA and DHEA+HFDs might influence PCOS phenotypes through distinct mechanisms: DHEA affects the normal function of hypothalamus–pituitary–ovarian axis through LH, whereas the addition of HFDs exaggerated endocrine and metabolic dysfunction through ovarian responses to insulin-related mechanisms. We concluded that the addition of HFDs yielded distinct phenotypes of DHEA-induced PCOS and could be used for studies on both reproductive and metabolic features of the syndrome.

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.

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

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.

Restricted access

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.


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.

Free access

Xue-Ying Zhang, Yi-Meng Xiong, Ya-Jing Tan, Li Wang, Rong Li, Yong Zhang, Xin-Mei Liu, Xian-Hua Lin, Li Jin, Yu-Ting Hu, Zhen-Hua Tang, Zheng-Mu Wu, Feng-Hua Yin, Zheng-Quan Wang, Ye Xiao, Jian-Zhong Sheng, and He-Feng Huang

Fertilization failure often occurs during in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles despite apparently normal sperm and oocytes. Accumulating evidence suggests that mitochondria play crucial roles in the regulation of sperm function and male fertility. 3-Nitrophthalic acid (3-NPA) can induce oxidative stress in mitochondria, and melatonin, as an antioxidant, can improve mitochondrial function by reducing mitochondrial oxidative stress. The role of sperm mitochondrial dysfunction in fertilization failure during IVF is unclear. The present study revealed that spermatozoa with low, or poor, fertilization rates had swollen mitochondria, increased mitochondria-derived ROS, and attenuated mitochondrial respiratory capacity. 3-NPA treatment enhanced mitochondrial dysfunction in sperm. Spermatozoa with poor fertilization rates, and spermatozoa treated with 3-NPA, had reduced penetration ability. The concentration of melatonin was decreased in semen samples with low and poor fertilization rates. Melatonin, not only decreased excessive mitochondria-derived ROS, but also ‘rescued’ the reduced penetration capacity of spermatozoa treated with 3-NPA. Taken together, the study suggested that mitochondria-derived ROS and mitochondrial respiratory capacity are independent bio-markers for sperm dysfunction, and melatonin may be useful in improving sperm quality and overall male fertility.