Contraction has been observed in cultured blastocysts of many mammals, but little is known about the features of the contraction and its physiological role in blastocysts. The author analyzed contractions of a large number of cultured mouse blastocysts by time-lapse videomicrography. The results revealed that blastocysts repeated contractions of different degrees during the expanded stage from 10 h after blastocoel formation, and that the number of contractions was greater during the hatching period than in the periods pre- and post-hatching. The results also showed that the time needed for both contraction and re-expansion to the size before contraction tended to lengthen in blastocysts severely contracted. It was inferred that contractions of blastocysts occur physiologically in relation to myosin light chain kinase, but not due to an increase in permeability between trophectoderm cells in association with their division, or the influence of culture. Furthermore, it was inferred that re-expansion of contracted blastocysts occurs due to active transport and accumulation of Na+ from the trophectoderm cells into blastocoelic fluid as a result of the action of Na+/K+-ATPase activated in the membrane of trophectoderm cells. Our results suggested that contractions are also present in blastocysts developed in vivo, and that weak contractions (less than 20% volume reduction) play an important role in hatching, whereas strong contractions (20% or more volume reduction) have the effect of inhibiting hatching. From our results on contractions of various blastocysts, it seems possible to evaluate the developmental ability of embryos, i.e. embryo quality, based on contractions of blastocysts.
Progesterone plays important roles in the regulation of female reproduction. In this study, progesterone receptor (PR) mRNA levels in rat uterus during pregnancy, labor, lactation and the estrous cycle were examined by competitive RT-PCR. During pregnancy and lactation, PR mRNA levels had decreased on day 20 of pregnancy (P20) and P21 compared with P15 but increased during labor. After a decline on day 1 of lactation (L1), PR mRNA levels had increased again on L3 and L14 compared with P15, P18, P20, P21 and P21pm (at 2200-2300 h on P21). There was no significant change in the PR mRNA level during the estrous cycle. The PR mRNA level did not change during 1 week of progesterone treatment or afterwards. Injection of 17β-estradiol did not affect PR mRNA levels in rats treated with progesterone or those without any injections. In rats on P18, 17β-estradiol injection did not change PR mRNA levels after sham-operation but induced an increase in PR mRNA levels of rats ovariectomized 6 h before the treatment. These results suggest that uterine PR mRNA levels are differently regulated during late pregnancy, labor and lactation, and during labor estrogen is one of the essential factors for the increase in PR mRNA levels.
Bovine interferon (bIFN) τ, which plays a key role in maternal-fetal recognition of pregnancy, was expressed by an Autographa californica nuclear polyhedrosis virus expression system. cDNA coding bIFNτ was derived from cultured trophoblast cells. The recombinant (r) bIFNτ had high antiviral activity (1 × 10 8 IU/mg) and the molecular weight of rbIFNτ was estimated to be 23 kDa by Western blotting analysis. We investigated the biological effect of rbIFNτ on prostaglandin (PG) F2α synthesis in cultured bovine endometrial epithelial cells in the presence or absence of oxytocin (OT, 100 nM). rbIFNτ suppressed basal and OT-induced PGF2α production in a dose-dependent manner (1-1,000 ng/ml). These results showed that biologically active rbIFNτ was produced in the baculovirus expression system, and that rbIFNτ had the ability to suppress the synthesis of PGF2α from bovine endometrial epithelial cells.
The aim of this study was to investigate whether functional tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) receptors are present in the granulosa cells and the cells of theca interna (theca cells), obtained from bovine follicles classified into one of three groups. Each group was defined as either small vesicular ovarian follicles (small follicles; 3-5 mm in diameter), preovulatory mature ovarian follicles (preovulatory follicles) or atretic follicles (12-18 mm) according to gross examination of the corpus luteum in the epsilateral or contralateral ovary and the uterus (size, color, consistency and mucus), and the ratio of progesterone (P4) and estradiol-17β (E2) concentrations in follicular fluid. A Scatchard analysis showed the presence of a high-affinity binding site on both granulosa and theca cells from all follicles examined (dissociation constant: 4.7 ± 0.15 to 6.9 ± 1.40 nM). Moreover, TNFα receptor concentrations in granulosa and theca cells obtained from atretic follicles were significantly higher than those in the cells from preovulatory follicles (P<0.05). Exposure of cultured granulosa cells from small antral follicles to recombinant human TNFα (rhTNFα; 0.06-6 nM) inhibited E2 secretion in a dose-dependent fashion (P<0.01), but did not affect P4 secretion. In addition, rhTNFα inhibited follicle stimulating hormone-, forskolin- or dibutylyl cyclic AMP-induced P4 and E2 secretion by the cells (P<0.01). These results indicate the presence of functional TNFα receptors in bovine granulosa and theca cells in small, preovulatory and atretic follicles, and suggest that TNFα plays a role in regulating their secretory function.
The activities of hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (HSDs) were histochemically demonstrated in mouse oocytes in the process of maturation in vivo and in vitro, and the changes in steroid metabolism during meiotic maturation and also the relationship between nuclear maturation and changes in steroid metabolism in the cytoplasm were examined. In mouse oocytes 0 h after human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) injection, the activities of Δ5-3β-HSD (with DHA, pregnenolone and 17α-hydroxypregnenolone as the substrates), 17β-HSD (estradiol-17β and testosterone) and 20β-HSD (17α-hydroxyprogesterone and 20β-hydroxyprogesterone) were observed in 87 to 97% of those, but that of 20α-HSD (20α-hydroxyprogesterone) was not. The percentages of oocytes showing the activities of Δ5-3β-HSD, 17β-HSD and 20β-HSD did not change during maturation in vivo or in vitro. Oocytes with 20α-HSD activity appeared 4 h after the hCG injection or after culture for 4 h and the rates of those reached 92 and 100%, respectively, 14 h after the hCG injection or after culture for 14 h. In oocytes cultured for 8 h with olomoucine or 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine, nuclei were almost all in the germinal vesicle stage, and activity of 20α-HSD was observed in 84 and 89% of the treated oocytes, respectively. On the other hand, 81% of control oocytes showed 20α-HSD activity, with no significant difference from the rate for the olomoucine- or 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine-treated oocytes. The present findings suggested that the metabolic abilities of progesterone, 17α-hydroxyprogesterone, 17α,20β-dihydroxyprogesterone, 20β-hydroxyprogesterone, androgen and estradiol-17β in the cytoplasm are constantly present in mouse oocytes in the process of maturation in vivo and in vitro. The results also suggested that the metabolic ability of 20α-hydroxyprogesterone in mouse oocytes increases during maturation, but the change in the metabolic ability of such a steroid is not related to nuclear maturation.
Senescence accelerated mouse-prone (SAMP) mice with a shortened life span show accelerated changes in many of the signs of aging and a shorter reproductive life span than SAM-resistant (SAMR) controls. We previously showed that functional regression (progesterone dissimilation) occurs in abnormally accumulated luteal bodies (aaLBs) of SAMP mice, but structural regression of luteal cells in aaLB is inhibited. A deficiency of luteal cell apoptosis causes the abnormal accumulation of LBs in SAMP ovaries. In the present study, to show the abnormality of Fas ligand (FasL)/Fas-mediated apoptosis signal transducing factors in the aaLBs of the SAMP ovaries, we assessed the changes in the expression of FasL, Fas, caspase-8 and caspase-3 mRNAs by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, and in the expression and localization of FasL, Fas and activated caspase-3 proteins by Western blotting and immunohistochemistry, respectively, during the estrus cycle/luteolysis. These mRNAs and proteins were expressed in normal LBs of both SAMP and SAMR ovaries, but not at all or only in trace amounts in aaLBs of SAMP, indicating that structural regression is inhibited by blockage of the expression of these transducing factors in luteal cells of aaLBs in SAMP mice.
In this study, we attempted to examine the presence of prolactin (PRL) messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) and protein in the mouse nipple and mammary gland in pregnancy and lactation. PRL-like substances were found by immunohistochemistry using an antibody against the mouse PRL (mPRL) in the sebaceous gland cells of the nipple during late pregnancy and lactation, and the cistern of alveoli in mammary glands during lactation. Western blot analysis of proteins extracted from the nipple and the mammary gland showed immunoreactive bands corresponding to molecular weights of approximate 16 kDa and 32 kDa, respectively. The expression of mRNA for mPRL in the nipple and mammary gland during late pregnancy and lactation was demonstrated by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), Southern blotting, and nucleotide sequence analyses. These results suggest that mPRL mRNA and its translation product are synthesized in the mouse nipple.
Conceptus implantation to the mother's uterus is a complex series of events involving coordinated expression of numerous genes at both the embryonic and the uterine sides. Since there are no suitable in vivo or in vitro experimental models, sequential changes occurring during the peri-implantation periods have not been well characterized. Using GeneChip technology and a recently introduced murine in vitro model of implantation, the expression of embryonic genes was examined before and after attachment to the uterine stromal cells. Instead of RNA or mRNA, amplified cRNA was subjected to the GeneChip analysis because amounts of mRNA in each blastocyst were minimal. Among 6,500 gene transcripts examined, changes in mRNA levels for 802 genes were identified. Of these detections, transcripts previously unsuspected were changes in a group of tumor suppressor and stress-induced genes, whose transcripts increased as embryos attached to the membrane. Validity of the data was evaluated using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridization analyses, both of which confirmed developmental changes in selected gene expressions during pre- and post-attachment periods. The present data suggest that GeneChip technology would be very useful for finding genes previously unsuspected, and this method should be used as an initial step, particularly as a screening tool, toward the dissection of complex mechanisms such as the processes of implantation.
The objectives of this study were to determine the risk factors for postpartum endometritis by evaluating several reproductive factors in individual cows, and to determine the effect of endometritis on the subsequent reproductive performance in dairy herds in Korea. The data, including health status, parity and body condition score (BCS) of cows, and calving date, were collected from 320 cows in eight dairy herds calving from January 2001 to October 2002. We used logistic regression to evaluate the effects of these factors on endometritis. A stepwise procedure, used to obtain the appropriate model with α=0.05, revealed that retained placenta, metabolic disorders and parity are the important risk factors for endometritis. The mean intervals from calving to first service and conception were prolonged (P<0.01) by 23 and 36 days, respectively, in the endometritis group compared to the non-endometritis group. The first service conception rate was lower (P<0.05) in the endometritis group (47.6%) than in the non-endometritis group (62.6%). The number of services per conception was higher (P<0.05) in the endometritis group (1.9) than in the non-endometritis group (1.6). We conclude that retained placenta, metabolic disorders and cow parity are strongly correlated with the development of postpartum endometritis, which decreases reproductive performance in dairy herds in Korea.
Many efforts have been made to develop effective culture conditions for the production of bovine blastocysts. Growth hormone (GH) and glucose are known to affect in vitro embryo development. To improve in vitro culture conditions, the culture medium containing fetal calf serum (FCS) or bovine serum albumin (BSA) was supplemented with GH at various periods of development, and the effects of GH on the rate of development and the quality of the blastocysts were studied. Then, starting at the morula stage, the effect of glucose and GH on the rate of development was studied. In all experimental periods, FCS was more effective than BSA at improving the development rate and increasing the cell number of blastocysts. Adding GH to the culture medium between 18 and 48 h after fertilization (1-8 cell stage embryo) did not affect either the rate of blastulation or the cell number regardless of the serum protein (FCS or BSA). From 48 to 120 h after fertilization (5-cell to morula stage) GH increased the cell number of the blastocysts in the presence of BSA, but not in the presence of FCS. From 120 to 192 h after fertilization (morula to blastocyst stage), GH improved the developmental rate and cell number in the presence of FCS, although there was no significant difference when BSA was used instead of FCS as the serum protein. When cows were implanted with blastocysts developed in the presence of GH from the morula stage, their pregnancy rate did not differ from that of the control. Increasing the glucose concentration in the medium from 1.5 mM to 3 mM starting at the morula stage (120 h after fertilization) slightly decreased the rate of development, but on the other hand, decreasing the glucose concentration to 0 mM did not affect either the rate of development or the cell number. Also, then GH had no effect on the developmental rate or the cell number in the absence of glucose. In conclusion, when the medium was supplemented with serum, GH improved embryo development from the morula stage, but an increased concentration of glucose decreased embryo development. Furthermore, GH did not improve the pregnancy rate of blastocysts developed in vitro.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the viability and subsequent developmental ability of murine germinal vesicle (GV) oocytes ultrarapidly vitrified after step-wise exposure to cryoprotectants (CPAs). Oocytes were transferred to a vitrification solution composed of 15% ethylene glycol, 15% dimethyl sulfoxide and 0.5 M sucrose in a direct manner (non-preequilibrium) or in a step-wise manner (single-, two-, or ten-step preequilibrium). After ultrarapid vitrification and storage in liquid nitrogen, the oocytes were thawed, washed by diluting the CPAs in five steps, and then subjected to in vitro maturation, fertilization and culture. In the non-preequilibrium group, the rates of post-thawed oocytes surviving, maturing to metaphase-II, developing to blastocysts and to hatching/hatched blastocysts were 91.8, 87.1, 15.9 and 2.3%, respectively. In the single- and two-step groups, the corresponding rates were 97.0-98.2%, 92.2-95.0%, 22.0-29.4% and 8.8-15.6%, whereas in the ten-step group they were 98.2, 91.8, 38.6 and 22.8%, respectively. In the non-vitrified control group, the rates of oocytes maturing to metaphase-II, developing to blastocysts and to hatching/hatched blastocysts were 90.2, 75.2 and 51.5%, respectively. The present study shows that the ultrarapid vitrification of murine GV oocytes by a step-wise manner involving 10 steps preequilibrium may have an advantage in maintaining the viability and subsequent production of blastocysts.
The purpose of this study was to examine: 1) whether caffeine in the fertilization medium under mineral oil is essential for bovine in vitro fertilization by fully capacitated spermatozoa, 2) the minimum concentration of caffeine that shows an adverse effect on the motility of preincubated spermatozoa. Cumulus-oocyte complexes with heterogeneous-appearing ooplasm were matured in in vitro culture for 24 h and used for insemination. The fertilization rates of the preincubated spermatozoa introduced into the fertilization medium containing 0 mM or 5 mM caffeine were examined. The fertilization rate of the spermatozoa introduced into the medium without caffeine (final concentration of caffeine at fertilization was 0.27-0.35 mM) was significantly higher than that in the medium with 5 mM caffeine (82.4% vs 55.2%, P<0.05). When the final concentration of caffeine at fertilization was reduced ten-fold (0.02-0.03 mM), the fertilization rate was not significantly improved (86.0%). The motility of the preincubated spermatozoa introduced into the fertilization medium containing 0-5 mM caffeine was examined. The sperm motility in the fertilization medium without caffeine was significantly higher than that in the fertilization medium with more than 2 mM caffeine. These results indicate that caffeine in the fertilization medium is not essential for bovine in vitro fertilization by fully capacitated spermatozoa, and that more than 2 mM caffeine has an adverse effect on preincubated (capacitated) sperm motility.
Applicability of ovulation synchronization protocol using GnRH and PGF2α (PGF) injection to anestrous beef cows remains controversial. We compared the effectiveness of the protocol in the anestrous stage of the beef cow with that in the cycling stage using the same animals. Ovaries of five Japanese Black and three Japanese Shorthorn cows were ultrasonographically examined, and blood samples were collected daily for hormonal analyses. Each animal received the protocol twice (Day -6 to -8: GnRH, Day 0: PGF, Day 2: GnRH). Additional blood samples were taken before and after GnRH injection for LH and FSH measurements to evaluate the pituitary function. For the ovarian status at the onset of the protocol cows were divided into anestrous (n=8) and cycling (n=8) stages. There was no significant difference in size of the dominant follicle at the first and second GnRH injections, and in the magnitude of the pituitary response to GnRH between the two stages. However, the size of the corpus luteum and progesterone concentrations at the PGF injection in the anestrous stage were significantly smaller and lower (P<0.01), respectively, and ovulation synchronization rate in the anestrous stage was significantly lower (P<0.05) than in the cycling stage. In conclusion, ovulation synchronization protocol in anestrous beef cows has limited effectiveness.
Hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons govern reproductive function by controlling the release of gonadotropins from the pituitary. To facilitate identification of living GnRH neurons, here we attempted to generate transgenic rats that express enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) in GnRH neurons. About 3 kb of rat GnRH promoter region was inserted into the EGFP reporter cassette, and the expression of EGFP fluorescence was confirmed in several cell lines following transient transfection. Then we successfully generated a transgenic rat by injecting linearized GnRH-EGFP transgene into the pronuclei of fertilized oocytes. The GnRH-EGFP transgenic rats expressed EGFP in the brain, but not in the ovary, testis or thymus. Immunohistochemical examination revealed that detectable EGFP fluorescence was confined to the cell body of GnRH-immunoreactive neurons in the septum and preoptic area, while no EGFP signal was discernible in the median eminence where abundant GnRH-immunoreactive fibers were observed. The mean percentage of EGFP-positive cells in the GnRH-positive cells was 76.3%. The GnRH-EGFP transgenic rats generated in the present study will enable characterization of properties of individual GnRH neurons.
To establish a storage system for isolated endometrial cells, we investigated the basal, oxytocin (OT)- and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) α-stimulated production of prostaglandin (PG) F2α in bovine-passaged and frozen-thawed endometrial cells. Stromal and epithelial cells obtained from cows in the early stage of the estrous cycle (Days 2-5) were frozen at -80 C or further cultured and/or passaged until passage 4 in DMEM/Ham's F-12 supplemented with 10% calf serum. A fresh-unfrozen primary culture and one-time passaged fresh-unfrozen cells were used as the control. When both unfrozen and frozen cells reached confluence, the culture medium was replaced with fresh medium with 0.1% BSA and the cells were stimulated with OT (100 ng/ml) or TNFα (1 ng/ml) for 4 h. The passage and freezing of the endometrial cells did not affect their morphology. In primary culture of frozen and unfrozen endometrial cells, OT strongly stimulated PGF2α production in epithelial cells, and TNFα strongly stimulated PGF2α production in stromal cells (P<0.05). The basal output of PGF2α in frozen stromal cells was similar to that in unfrozen stromal cells. However, the basal output of PGF2α in frozen epithelial cells was significantly lower than that unfrozen cells (P<0.05). On the other hand, in passaged cells, the basal level of PGF2α production was retained until passage 1 in epithelial cells, whereas it was retained until passage 4 in stromal cells. Although epithelial cells responded to OT in PGF2α production until passage 2 (P<0.05), the stromal cells showed a significant response to TNFα until passage 4 (P<0.05). These results suggest that stored cells could be used for studying the physiology of bovine endometrium in vitro until passage 1 in endometrial epithelial cells, and until passage 4 in stromal cells.
Retinoic acid receptor (RAR) α and retinoid X receptor (RXR) α are key factors in a nuclear receptor-dependent signal. To evaluate the effects of bisphenol A (BPA), a candidate endocrine disruptor (ED), on embryonic development, we examined the mRNA levels of RARα and RXRα in murine embryos, exposed in utero to BPA (2 μg/kg/day) at 6.5-17.5 days post-coitum (dpc), by the real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method. Higher levels of RARα mRNA in cerebra of male and female embryos of control groups were detected at 14.5 dpc. In utero BPA reduced the RARα mRNA expression. Higher levels of RXRα mRNA in cerebra of male and female embryos were seen at 12.5 dpc. The exposure decreased RXRα mRNA expression in male but not female embryos. No remarkable change in the RARα mRNA expression level was noted in cerebella of male or female embryos of the control group during embryonic development. Exposure to BPA increased expression levels of RARα mRNA in cerebella of male and female embryos at 12.5 dpc. Higher levels of RXRα mRNA in cerebella of male and female embryos were seen, but no remarkable changes were noted during embryonic development. BPA significantly decreased the expression levels of RXRα mRNA in cerebella of female embryos at 12.5, 14.5 and 18.5 dpc. RARα and RXRα mRNAs were expressed in gonads (testes and ovaries) of murine embryos from 12.5 to 18.5 dpc. In utero exposure to BPA decreased levels of RARα mRNA in testes of 14.5- and 18.5-dpc-embryos, levels of RXRα mRNA in testes of 14.5-dpc-embryos, and levels of RXRα mRNA in ovaries of 14.5-dpc-embryos. The present findings indicate that RARα and RXRα play crucial roles in organogenesis, and the growth and development of murine embryos, and will contribute to the assessment of the toxic effects of BPA on retinoid signals in embryogenesis.
Estrogen plays an important role in sexual differentiation of the brain in rats during the perinatal period. To elucidate molecular mechanisms underlying sexual differentiation of the brain, in this study we investigated genes differentially expressed between sexes or induced to express by estrogen in neonatal rat hypothalamus using DNA microarray analysis in combination with real-time RT-PCR. It was found that the levels of expression of the genes encoding glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 and coronin 1b were higher in male than female hypothalamus on postnatal day (PN) 5 and those of collagen type 3 α1 and thioredoxin reductase 2 genes in female hypothalamus on PN5 were decreased and increased, respectively, by treatment with estradiol on PN2. Then the developmental changes in the expression of these 4 genes were examined from 1 day before the parturition to PN9, and they all showed sexual dimorphic patterns. In addition, dependence of the expression of these genes on either estradiol, testosterone or dihydrotestosterone during the neonatal period was confirmed. These results suggest that these four genes are involved in sexual differentiation of the rat brain, and that androgen per se as well as estrogen may take part in the processes.
The objective of the present investigation was to study proliferative activity of fibroblast-like endometrial stromal cells in bovine endometrial caruncular (CAR) and intercaruncular (ICAR) areas that have distinct functions during implantation. Endometrial stromal cells were derived from CAR and ICAR of nonpregnant cows, and their proliferative potential was analyzed in an in vitro cell culture system. In addition, expression of four types of cell cycle regulatory molecules was analyzed by RT-PCR in samples of CAR, ICAR, cotyledon (COT) and fetal membrane of both artificially inseminated (AI) and somatic nuclear transferred (NT) cows on days 30 and 60 of gestation. The proliferation growth curve showed that the cells derived from CAR had higher proliferative activity than that of ICAR-derived cells. No morphological differences were found between the cells derived from CAR and ICAR at population-doubling levels (PDL) of the two. Most of the cells derived from ICAR of nonpregnant cows exhibited expanded shape with no further proliferation at PDL 6 with a lack of cyclin E expression. Of the regulatory molecules, cyclin D1, CDK2 and CDK4 were expressed in both CAR and ICAR cells derived from both nonpregnant, and AI cows on days 30 and 60 of gestation. The expression of cyclin E in both AI and NT cows was confined to COT and fetal membrane on day 30 of gestation. Cyclin E expression on day 60 of gestation in AI cows was observed in all but ICAR areas. In marked contrast, however, cyclin E expression on day 60 of gestation in NT cows was confined to COT, suggesting that poor placentation in these cows is possibly associated with a lack of cyclin E expression. These results suggest that CAR-derived stromal cells have higher proliferative potential, which may be related to cyclin E expression during implantation.