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Fenfen Xie, Junhui Zhang, Muxin Zhai, Yajing Liu, Hui Hu, Zhen Yu, Junqiang Zhang, Shuai Lin, Dan Liang, and Yunxia Cao

Emerging evidence has demonstrated that melatonin (MT) plays a crucial role in regulating mammalian reproductive functions. It has been reported that MT has a protective effect on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). However, the protective mechanisms of MT remain poorly understood. This study aims to explore the effect of MT on ovarian function in PCOS and to elucidate the relevant molecular mechanisms in vivo and in vitro. We first analysed MT expression levels in the follicular fluid of PCOS patients. A significant reduction in MT expression levels was noted in PCOS patients. Intriguingly, reduced MT levels correlated with serum testosterone and inflammatory cytokine levels in follicular fluid. Moreover, we confirmed the protective function of MT through regulating autophagy in a DHEA-induced PCOS rat model. Autophagy was activated in the ovarian tissue of the PCOS rat model, whereas additional MT inhibited autophagy by increasing PI3K−-Akt pathway expression. In addition, serum-free testosterone, inflammatory and apoptosis indexes were reduced after MT supplementation. Furthermore, we also found that MT suppressed autophagy and apoptosis by activating the PI3K-Akt pathway in the DHEA-exposed human granulosa cell line KGN. Our study showed that MT ameliorated ovarian dysfunction by regulating autophagy in DHEA-induced PCOS via the PI3K-Akt pathway, revealing a potential therapeutic drug target for PCOS.

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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.