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Free access

Jing Xue, Hui Zhang, Wei Liu, Ming Liu, Min Shi, Zeqing Wen, and Changzhong Li

Adenomyosis is a finding that is associated with dysmenorrhea and heavy menstrual bleeding, associated with PI3K/AKT signaling overactivity. To investigate the effect of metformin on the growth of eutopic endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) from patients with adenomyosis and to explore the involvement of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and PI3K/AKT pathways. Primary cultures of human ESCs were derived from normal endometrium (normal endometrial stromal cells (N-ESCs)) and adenomyotic eutopic endometrium (adenomyotic endometrial stroma cells (A-ESCs)). Expression of AMPK was determined using immunocytochemistry and western blot analysis. 3-(4, 5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assays were used to determine the effects of metformin and compound C on ESCs and also to detect growth and proliferation of ESCs. AMPK and PI3K/AKT signaling was determined by western blotting. A-ECSs exhibited greater AMPK expression than N-ESCs. Metformin inhibited proliferation of ESCs in a concentration-dependent manner. The IC50 was 2.45 mmol/l for A-ESCs and 7.87 mmol/l for N-ESCs. Metformin increased AMPK activation levels (p-AMPK/AMPK) by 2.0±0.3-fold in A-ESCs, 2.3-fold in A-ESCs from the secretory phase, and 1.6-fold in the proliferation phase. The average reduction ratio of 17β-estradiol on A-ESCs was 2.1±0.8-fold in proliferative phase and 2.5±0.5-fold in secretory phase relative to the equivalent groups not treated with 17β-estradiol. The inhibitory effects of metformin on AKT activation (p-AKT/AKT) were more pronounced in A-ESCs from the secretory phase (3.2-fold inhibition vs control) than in those from the proliferation phase (2.3-fold inhibition vs control). Compound C, a selective AMPK inhibitor, abolished the effects of metformin on cell growth and PI3K/AKT signaling. Metformin inhibits cell growth via AMPK activation and subsequent inhibition of PI3K/AKT signaling in A-ESCs, particularly during the secretory phase, suggesting a greater effect of metformin on A-ESCs from secretory phase.

Free access

Yali Xu, Yong Fan, Weimin Fan, Jia Jing, Ke Xue, Xing Zhang, Bin Ye, Yingjie Ji, Yue Liu, and Zhide Ding

Asthenozoospermia is one of the leading causes of male infertility owing to a decline in sperm motility. Herein, we determined if there is a correlation between RNASET2 content on human spermatozoa and sperm motility in 205 semen samples from both asthenozoospermia patients and normozoospermia individuals. RNASET2 content was higher in sperm from asthenozoospermia patients than in normozoospermia individuals. On the other hand, its content was inversely correlated with sperm motility as well as progressive motility. Moreover, the inhibitory effect of RNASET2 on sperm motility was induced by incubating normozoospermic sperm with RNase T2 protein. Such treatment caused significant declines in intracellular spermatozoa PKA activity, PI3K activity and calcium level, which resulted in severely impaired sperm motility, and the sperm motility was largely rescued by cAMP supplementation. Finally, protein immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry identified proteins whose interactions with RNASET2 were associated with declines in human spermatozoa motility. AKAP4, a protein regulating PKA activity, coimmunoprecipated with RNASET2 and they colocalized with one another in the sperm tail, which might contribute to reduced sperm motility. Thus, RNASET2 may be a novel biomarker of asthenozoospermia. Increases in RNASET2 can interact with AKAP4 in human sperm tail and subsequently reduce sperm motility by suppressing PKA/PI3K/calcium signaling pathways.

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Xue Zhang, Bo-Yin Tan, Shuang Zhang, Qian Feng, Ying Bai, Shi-Quan Xiao, Xue-Mei Chen, Jun-Lin He, Xue-Qing Liu, Ying-Xiong Wang, Yu-Bin Ding, and Fang-Fang Li

Decidualization of uterine stromal cells plays an important role in the establishment of normal pregnancy. Previous studies have demonstrated that Acyl-CoA binding protein (Acbp) is critical to cellular proliferation, differentiation, mitochondrial functions, and autophagy. The characterization and physiological function of Acbp during decidualization remain largely unknown. In the present study, we conducted the expression profile of Acbp in the endometrium of early pregnant mice. With the occurrence of decidualization, the expression of Acbp gradually increased. Similarly, Acbp expression was also strongly expressed in decidualized cells following artificial decidualization, both in vivo and in vitro. We applied the mice pseudopregnancy model to reveal that the expression of Acbp in the endometrium of early pregnant mice was not induced by embryonic signaling. Moreover, P4 significantly upregulated the expression of Acbp, whereas E2 appeared to have no regulating effect on Acbp expression in uterine stromal cells. Concurrently, we found that interfering with Acbp attenuated decidualization, and that might due to mitochondrial dysfunctions and the inhibition of fatty acid oxidation. The level of autophagy was increased after knocking down Acbp. During induced decidualization, the expression of ACBP was decreased with the treatment of rapamycin (an autophagy inducer), while increased with the addition of Chloroquine (an autophagy inhibitor). Our work suggests that Acbp plays an essential role in the proliferation and differentiation of stromal cells during decidualization through regulating mitochondrial functions, fatty acid oxidation, and autophagy.

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Wen-jing Guo, Yi-cheng Wang, Yong-dan Ma, Zhi-hui Cui, Li-xue Zhang, Li Nie, Xue-qin Zhang, Mei-jiao Wang, Jin-hu Zhang, Dong-zhi Yuan, and Li-min Yue

The incidence of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) due to high-fat diet (HFD) consumption has been increasing significantly. However, the mechanism by which a HFD contributes to the pathogenesis of PCOS has not been elucidated. Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) is a key protein that regulates cholesterol metabolism. Our previous study revealed abnormally high PCSK9 levels in serum from patients with PCOS and in serum and hepatic and ovarian tissues from PCOS model mice, suggesting that PCSK9 is involved in the pathogenesis of PCOS. However, the factor that induces high PCSK9 expression in PCOS remains unclear. In this study, Pcsk9 knockout mice were used to further explore the role of PCSK9 in PCOS. We also studied the effects of a HFD on the expression of PCSK9 and sterol regulatory element-binding protein 2 (SREBP2), a regulator of cholesterol homeostasis and a key transcription factor that regulates the expression of PCSK9, and the roles of these proteins in PCOS pathology. Our results indicated HFD may play an important role by inducing abnormally high PCSK9 expression via SREBP2 upregulation. We further investigated the effects of an effective SREBP inhibitor, fatostain, and found that it could reduce HFD-induced PCSK9 expression, ameliorate hyperlipidemia and improve follicular development in PCOS model mice. Our study thus further elucidates the important role of an HFD in the pathogenesis of PCOS and provides a new clue in the prevention and treatment of this disorder.

Free access

Yun-Kao Cao, Zhi-Sheng Zhong, Da-Yuan Chen, Gui-Xue Zhang, Heide Schatten, and Qing-Yuan Sun

The small GTPase Ran controls numerous cellular processes of the mitotic cell cycle. In this experiment, we investigated the localization and possible roles of Ran during mouse oocyte meiotic maturation, fertilization and early cleavage by using confocal laser scanning microscopy, antibody microinjection and microtubule disturbance. The results showed that Ran was localized mainly in the nucleus (except for the nucleolus) in the oocyte, zygote and early embryo. At pro-metaphase of meiosis I, Ran distributed throughout the cell, but predominantly concentrated around the condensed chromosomes. During the completion of meiosis I and meiosis II, it concentrated to the meiotic spindle microtubules except for the midbody region. After sperm penetration, Ran dispersed with the extrusion of the second polar body and gradually concentrated in the male and female pronuclei thereafter. Ran was also observed to exist diffusely in the cytoplasm in prophase; it concentrated at the mitotic spindle, and migrated to the nucleus during early cleavage. Ran’s concentration around the spindle disappeared when microtubule assembly was inhibited by colchicine, while it was concentrated around the chromosomes after microtubule stabilization with taxol treatment. Ran did not display any role in cytokinesis during division when pseudo-cleavage of germinal vesicle-intact oocytes was induced. Anti-Ran antibody microinjection decreased the germinal vesicle breakdown and the first polar body extrusion, and distorted spindle organization and chromosome alignment. Our results indicate that Ran has a cell cycle-dependent localization and may have regulatory roles in cell cycle progression and microtubule organization in mouse oocytes, fertilized eggs and early embryos.

Free access

Wen-Lin Chang, Qing Yang, Hui Zhang, Hai-Yan Lin, Zhi Zhou, Xiaoyin Lu, Cheng Zhu, Li-Qun Xue, and Hongmei Wang

Placenta-specific protein 1 (PLAC1), a placenta-specific gene, is known to be involved in the development of placenta in both humans and mice. However, the precise role of PLAC1 in placental trophoblast function remains unclear. In this study, the localization of PLAC1 in human placental tissues and its physiological significance in trophoblast invasion and migration are investigated by technical studies including real-time RT-PCR, in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, and functional studies by utilizing cell invasion and migration assays in the trophoblast cell line HTR8/SVneo as well as the primary inducing extravillous trophoblasts (EVTs). The results show that PLAC1 is mainly detected in the trophoblast columns and syncytiotrophoblast of the first-trimester human placental villi, as well as in the EVTs that invade into the maternal decidua. Knockdown of PLAC1 by RNA interference significantly suppresses the invasion and migration of HTR8/SVneo cells and shortens the distance of the outgrowth of the induced EVTs from the cytotrophoblast column of the explants. All the above data suggests that PLAC1 plays an important role in human placental trophoblast invasion and migration.

Free access

Ling Jin, Liang Ren, Jing Lu, Xue Wen, Siying Zhuang, Ting Geng, and Yuanzhen Zhang

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder accompanied by chronic low-grade inflammation; its etiology is still undefined. This study investigated the expression of CXCL12, CXCR4, and CXCR7 in PCOS rats and their role in regulation of apoptosis. To accomplish this, we established an in vivo PCOS rat model and studied KGN cells (human ovarian granulosa cell line) in vitro. In PCOS rats, the ovarian expression of CXCL12, CXCR4, and CXCR7 was reduced, and the apoptosis rate of granulosa cells was increased, accompanied by decreased expression of BCL2 and increased expression of BAX and cleaved CASPASE3 (CASP3). We further showed that recombinant human CXCL12 treatment upregulated BCL2, downregulated BAX, and cleaved CASP3 in KGN cells to inhibit their apoptosis in a concentration-dependent manner; moreover, the effect of CXCL12 was weakened by CXCR4 antagonist AMD3100 and anti-CXCR7 neutralizing antibody. In conclusion, PCOS rats showed decreased CXCL12, CXCR4, and CXCR7 expression and increased apoptosis rate of ovarian granulosa cells. Further, in human KGN cells, CXCL12 regulated the expression of BAX, BCL2, and cleaved CASP3 to inhibit apoptosis through CXCR4- and CXCR7-mediated signal transmission. These findings may provide a theoretical and practical basis for illuminating the role of proinflammatory cytokines in the pathogenesis of PCOS.

Free access

Yufei Wang, Haoya Chang, Qifu He, Yaxing Xue, Kang Zhang, Jian Kang, Ying Wang, Zhiming Xu, Yong Zhang, and Fusheng Quan

Oocyte vitrification has significantly improved the survival rate and become the mainstream method for cryopreserving oocytes. Previous studies have demonstrated that the ultrastructure, mitochondrial function, DNA methylation, and histone modification exhibit an irreversible effect after oocyte vitrification. However, little is known about the effects of oocyte vitrification on glucose transport and metabolism. This study aims to determine whether mouse oocyte vitrification causes abnormal glucose metabolism and identify a strategy to correct abnormal glucose metabolism. Furthermore, this study further investigates the effects of oocyte vitrification on glucose uptake, and glucose metabolism, and energy levels. The results indicated that vitrification significantly reduced the glucose transport activity, NADPH, glutathione, and ATP levels, and increased reactive oxygen species levels in oocytes (P  < 0.01). Vitrification also reduced the expression of glucose transporter isoform 1 (GLUT1) (P  < 0.01). Adding a GLUT1 inhibitor reduced the glucose uptake capacity of oocytes. Furthermore, the inclusion of vitamin C into thawing and culture solutions restored abnormal glucose transportation and metabolism and improved the survival, two-cell embryo, and blastocyst rates of the vitrified groups via parthenogenesis (P  < 0.05). Overall, this method may improve the quality and efficiency of oocyte vitrification.

Open access

Yu-chen Zhang, Xiao-li Qin, Xiao-ling Ma, Hui-qin Mo, Shi Qin, Cheng-xi Zhang, Xiao-wei Wei, Xue-qing Liu, Yan Zhang, Fu-ju Tian, and Yi Lin

Preeclampsia is a gestational hypertensive disease; however, preeclampsia remains poorly understood. Bioinformatics analysis was applied to find novel genes involved in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia and identified CLDN1 as one of the most differentially expressed genes when comparing patients with preeclampsia and healthy controls. The results of the qRT-PCR, Western blotting and immunohistochemistry experiments demonstrated that CLDN1 was significantly downregulated in the chorionic villi in samples from patients with preeclampsia. Furthermore, knockdown of CLDN1 in HTR-8/SVneo cells resulted in the inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis, and overexpression of CLDN1 reversed these effects. In addition, RNA-seq assays demonstrated that the gene BIRC3 is potentially downstream of CLDN1 and is involved in the regulation of apoptosis. Knockdown of CLDN1 confirmed that the expression level of BIRC3 was obviously decreased and was associated with a significant increase in cleaved PARP. Interestingly, the apoptotic effect in CLDN1 knockdown cells was rescued after BIRC3 overexpression. Overall, these results indicate that a decrease in CLDN1 inhibits BIRC3 expression and increases cleaved PARP levels thus participating in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia.

Restricted access

Xiao-Wei Wei, Xue-Qing Liu, Yu-Chen Zhang, Chuan-Mei Qin, Yi Lin, and Fu-Ju Tian

Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) is a multifactorial condition with no explanation of miscarriage in approximately half of the RPL patients, consequently leaving deep physical and emotional sequels. Transcription factor 3 (TCF3 or E2A), is a unique member of the LEF/TCF family and plays an important role in embryogenesis. However, its function in RPL is poorly understood. Using real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), western blotting, and immunohistochemistry, we demonstrated that TCF3 was downregulated in decidual tissues from RPL patients compared with healthy control (HC). Further, TCF3 knockdown inhibited proliferation, induced G0/G1 phase arrest, and promoted migration in human endometrial stromal cells (HESCs), while overexpression of TCF3 exhibited the opposite effects. RNA-sequencing analysis combined with gene-set enrichment analysis results showed that the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway is potentially downstream of TCF3. Knockdown of TCF3 confirmed increased p38 phosphorylation, while overexpression of TCF3 inhibited p38 phosphorylation. Furthermore, we found that TCF3 protein level was decreased in HESCs under hypoxic incubation, while hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF1A) knockdown increased the expression of TCF3. TCF3 overexpression recovered the proliferation ability of HESCs inhibited by hypoxia and reversed hypoxia-induced migration. Consistently, we found that RPL patients had a significantly higher level of HIF1A in the decidual tissue than HC. Overall, this study clarifies that increased HIF1A in the decidua contributes to the occurrence of RPL through the TCF3/p38 signaling pathway.