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Yue Liu and Zhide Ding

Obesity, defined as excessive accumulation of fat in adipose tissue, is a metabolic disorder resulting from behavioral, environmental and heritable causes. Obesity increases the risks of hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, osteoarthritis and cancer. Meanwhile, the negative impact of obesity on male reproduction is gradually recognized. According to the clinical investigations and animal experiments, obesity is correlated with reductions in sperm concentration and motility, increase in sperm DNA damage and changes in reproductive hormones. Several mechanisms can elucidate the effects of obesity on sperm functions and male subfertility, i.e., the excessive conversion of androgens into estrogens in redundant adipose tissue causes sexual hormone imbalance, subsequently resulting in hypogonadism. Secondly, adipokines produced by adipose tissue induce severe inflammation and oxidative stress in male reproductive tract, directly impairing testicular and epididymal tissues. Moreover, increased scrotal adiposity leads to increase gonadal heat, continuously hurting spermatogenesis. Therefore, obesity alters the systematic and regional environment crucial for spermatogenesis in testis and sperm maturation in epididymis, and finally results in poor sperm quality including decreased sperm motility, abnormal sperm morphology and acrosome reaction, changed membrane lipids and increased DNA damage. Furthermore, recent studies indicate that epigenetic changes may be a consequence of increased adiposity. A major effort to identify epigenetic determinants of obesity revealed that sperm DNA methylation and non-coding RNA modification are associated with BMI changes and proposed to inherit metabolic comorbidities across generations. This review will explain how obesity-related changes in males to influence sperm function and male fertility as well.

Free access

Chulin Yu, Meiling Li, Yue Wang, Ying Liu, Chengzhi Yan, Jirong Pan, Jiali Liu, and Sheng Cui

The corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) signaling system is involved in numbers of stress-related physiological and pathological responses, including its inhibiting effects on estradiol (E2) synthesis and follicular development in the ovary. In addition, there are reports that microRNAs (miRNAs) can control the function of animal reproductive system. The aim of present study was to investigate the functions of miR-375 and the relationship between miR-375 and CRH signaling molecules in the porcine ovary. First, our common PCR results show that miR-375 and the CRH receptor 1 (CRHR1) are expressed in porcine ovary, whereas CRH receptor 2 (CRHR2) is not detected. We further have located the cell types of miR-375 and CRHR1 by in situ hybridization (ISH), and the results show that miR-375 is located only in the granulosa cells, whereas CRHR1 is positive in all of granulosa cells and oocytes, inferring that miR-375 and CRHR1 are co-localized in granulosa cells. Second, we show that overexpression of miR-375 in cultured granulosa cells suppresses the E2 production, whereas miR-375 knockdown demonstrates the opposite result. Besides, our in vitro results demonstrate that miR-375 mediates the signaling pathway of CRH inhibiting E2 synthesis. Finally, our data show that the action of miR-375 is accomplished by directly binding to the 3′UTR of specificity protein1 (SP1) mRNA to decrease the SP1 protein level. Thus, we conclude that miR-375 is a key factor in regulating E2 synthesis by mediating the CRH signaling pathway.

Free access

Kun Li, Yue Liu, Xiaoyu Xia, Li Wang, Meige Lu, Yanqin Hu, and Chen Xu

Bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein (BPI) is a 455-residue (∼55 kDa) protein found mainly in the primary (azurophilic) granules of human neutrophils. BPI is an endogenous antibiotic protein that belongs to the family of mammalian lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-binding and lipid transport proteins. Its major function is to kill Gram-negative bacteria, thereby protecting the host from infection. In addition, BPI can inhibit angiogenesis, suppress LPS-mediated platelet activation, increase DNA synthesis, and activate ERK/Akt signaling. In this study, we found that Bpi was expressed in the testis and epididymis but not in the seminal vesicles, prostate, and solidification glands. BPI expression in the epididymis increased upon upregulation of testosterone, caused by injection of GNRH. In orchidectomized mice, BPI expression was significantly reduced, but its expression was restored to 30% of control levels in orchidectomized mice that received supplementary testosterone. The number of sperm fused per egg significantly decreased after incubation with anti-BPI antiserum. These results suggest that BPI may take part in the process of sperm–oocyte fusion and play a unique and significant role in reproduction.

Open access

Jing Liu, Yang Wang, Peng Chen, Yue Ma, Shuo Wang, Ye Tian, Anna Wang, and Danbo Wang

Previous lncRNA microarray screening found that the AC002454.1 gene was highly expressed in endometriosis (EMS), and these expression levels were highly correlated with cyclin-dependent kinase-6 (CDK6). This study investigated the expression level and correlation between AC002454.1 and CDK6 in endometrium tissues and the influence of these changes in expression upon the biological behavior of eutopic endometrial cells. We confirmed AC002454.1 and CDK6 mRNA and protein were highly expressed in ectopic and eutopic endometrial tissue from patients with EMS and were clearly correlated. In vitro, both AC002454.1 and CDK6 positively regulated the proliferation, migration and invasion ability of eutopic endometrial cells and could promote the transformation of cells from G0/G1 phase to S phase. AC002454.1 and CDK6 may have synergistic effects, thereby affecting the biological behavior of endometrial cells, and thus promote the progression of EMS.

Free access

Chen Geng, Hao-ran Liu, Yue Zhao, Yang Yang, and Lan Chao

The epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition may play a role in adenomyosis. GRIM19 expression is downregulated in adenomyotic lesions, and the effects of this downregulation in adenomyosis remain relatively unclear. In this study, we aimed to explore whether aberrant GRIM19 expression is associated with the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in adenomyosis and found that the expression of both GRIM19 and WT1 was low, and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, which included significant changes in CDH1, CDH2 and KRT8 expression, occurred in adenomyotic lesions, as confirmed by Western blotting and quantitative real-time PCR. We provided novel insights into WT1 expression in adenomyosis, revealing that WT1 expression was increased in the endometrial glands of adenomyotic lesions by immunohistochemistry. In vitro, knockdown of GRIM19 expression by small interfering RNA (siRNA) promoted the proliferation, migration and invasion of Ishikawa cells, as measured by Cell Counting Kit-8, wound healing assay and Transwell assays. Western blotting and quantitative real-time PCR confirmed that WT1 expression increased and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition was induced, including the upregulation of CDH2 and downregulation of CDH1 and KRT8after transfecting the GRIM19 siRNA to Ishikawa cells. Furthermore, Wt1 expression was upregulated and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition was observed, including downregulation of Cdh1 and Krt8 in Grim19 gene-knockdown mice. Upregulation of Wt1 expression in the endometrial glands of Grim19 knockdown mice was also verified by immunohistochemistry. Taken together, these results reveal that low expression of GRIM19 in adenomyosis may upregulate WT1 expression and induce epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in the endometria, providing new insights into the pathogenesis of adenomyosis.

Free access

Fei Qu, Xiaoqian Ying, Wei Guo, Qiangsu Guo, Guowu Chen, Yue Liu, and Zhide Ding

Sperm motility is essential for male reproduction or natural fertilization. The cyclic AMP (cAMP)/cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) signaling pathway is generally recognized as one of the significant signaling pathways in the regulation of mammalian spermatozoan motility. Since Zn-α2-glycoprotein (ZAG) activity in mammalian adipose tissue is mediated via the β3-adrenoreceptor, with upregulation of the cAMP pathway, we hypothesize that ZAG may play the same role in sperm motility regulation, a new factor of regulation of sperm motility. Therefore, the gene encoding human ZAG was cloned and polyclonal antibodies were generated, and then laser scanning confocal microscopy and flow cytometry were employed to identify this protein in human spermatozoa. The results showed that ZAG protein was mostly localized on the pre-equatorial region covering the acrosome, neck, and middle piece of the flagellum of spermatozoa. Furthermore, using computer-assisted sperm analysis, we found that anti-human ZAG antibodies could significantly reduce the motility of human swim-up spermatozoa after 90- or 120-min incubation (P<0.05 and P<0.01 respectively), together with the decreasing of intracellular cAMP and PKA levels. In conclusion, these data suggest that ZAG is present in human spermatozoa and may be involved in the regulation of sperm motility via the cAMP/PKA signaling pathway.

Restricted access

Yue Zhao, Haoran Liu, Yang Yang, Wenqian Huang, and Lan Chao

Abnormal sperm parameters such as oligospermia, asthenospermia, and teratozoospermia result in male factor infertility. Previous studies have shown that mitochondria play an important role in human spermatozoa motility. But the related pathogenesis is far from elucidated. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between gene associated with retinoid-interferon-induced mortality 19 (GRIM19) and asthenospermia. In this study, Grim19 knockout model (Grim19+/− mouse) was created through genome engineering. We showed that compared with WT mice, the sperm count and motility of Grim19+/− mice were significantly reduced. Grim19 may contribute to sperm count and vitality by influencing the mitochondrial membrane potential, intracellular reactive oxygen species production, and increasing cell apoptosis. The spermatogenic cells of all levels in the lumen of the seminiferous tubules were sparsely arranged, and the intercellular space became larger in the testis tissue of Grim19+/− mice. The serum testosterone concentration is significantly reduced in Grim19+/− mice. The expression of steroid synthesis-related proteins STAR, CYP11A1, and HSD3B was decreased in Grim19+/− mice. To further confirm whether changes in testosterone biosynthesis were due to Grim19 downregulation, we validated this result using Leydig cells and TM3 cells. We also found that Notch signaling pathway was involved in Grim19-mediated testosterone synthesis to some extent. In conclusion, we revealed a mechanism underlying Grim19 mediated spermatozoa motility and suggested that Grim19 affected the synthesis of testosterone and steroid hormones in male mouse partly through regulating Notch signal pathways.

Free access

Yue Zhang, Mingyun Ni, Na Liu, Yongjiang Zhou, Xuemei Chen, Yubin Ding, Junlin He, Yingxiong Wang, Xueqing Liu, Yanqing Geng, and Liling Xie

Embryo implantation is a complex process involving synchronised crosstalk between a receptive endometrium and functional blastocysts. Apoptosis plays an important role in this process as well as in the maintenance of pregnancy. In this study, we analysed the expression pattern of programmed cell death 4 (Pdcd4), a gene associated with apoptosis in the mouse endometrium, during early pregnancy and pseudopregnancy by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction, in situ hybridisation, Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. The results showed that Pdcd4 was increased along with days of pregnancy and significantly reduced at implantation sites (IS) from day 5 of pregnancy (D5). The level of Pdcd4 at IS was substantially lower than that at interimplantation sites (IIS) on D6 and D7. In addition, Pdcd4 expression in the endometrium was reduced in response to artificially induced decidualisation in vivo and in vitro. Downregulation of Pdcd4 gene expression in cultured primary stromal cells promoted decidualisation, while upregulation inhibited the decidualisation process by increasing apoptosis. These results demonstrate that Pdcd4 is involved in stromal cell decidualisation by mediating apoptosis and therefore plays a role in embryo implantation in mice.

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.

Free access

Yue-Mao Zheng, Hui-Ying Zhao, Xiao-E Zhao, Fu-Sheng Quan, Song Hua, Xiao-Ying He, Jun Liu, Xiao-Ning He, and Hui Lin

We assessed the developmental ability of embryos cloned from porcine neural stem (NS) cells, amniotic fluid-derived stem (AFS) cells, fetal fibroblast cells, adult fibroblast, and mammary gland epithelial cells. The five cell lines were transfected with enhanced green fluorescence protein gene respectively using lipofection. NS and AFS cells were induced to differentiate in vitro. Stem cells and their differentiated cells were harvested for analysis of the markers using RT-PCR. The five cell lines were used for nuclear transfer. The two-cell stage-cloned embryos derived from each cell line were transferred into the oviducts of surrogate mothers. The results showed that both NS and AFS cells expressed POU5F1, THY1 and SOX2, and they were both induced to differentiate into astrocyte (GFAP+), oligodendrocyte (GalC+), neuron (NF+, ENO2+, and MAP2+), adipocyte (LPL+ and PPARG-D+), osteoblast (osteonectin+ and osteocalcin+), myocyte (MYF6+ and MYOD+), and endothelium (PECAM1+, CD34+, CDH5+, and NOS3+) respectively. Seven cloned fetuses (28 days and 32 days) derived from stem cells were obtained. The in vitro developmental ability (morula–blastocyst rate was 28.26–30.07%) and in vivo developmental ability (pregnancy rate were 1.67–2.17%) of the embryos cloned from stem cells were higher (P<0.05) than that of the embryos cloned from somatic cells (morula–blastocyst rate was 16.27–19.28% and pregnancy rate was 0.00%), which suggests that the undifferentiated state of the donor cells increases cloning efficiency.