We previously reported that all fetuses died or were resorbed on day 12 of pregnancy (Day 1=the day of plug) in interleukin-2 (IL-2) receptor β-chain overexpressed transgenic (Tg2Rβ) mice. In this study, to clarify the role of uterine natural killer (uNK) cells in pregnancy, the ultrastructure of Tg2Rβ mouse uNK cells was analyzed using a transmission electron microscope. uNK cells and their granules on day 10 of pregnancy were larger in Tg2Rβ mice than control mice, indicating that differentiation of uNK cells in Tg2Rβ mice progressed rapidly. Additionally, the granules of uNK cells in Tg2Rβ mice on day 10 of pregnancy had an irregular morphology. The multivesicular regions were present in the cap structure of these granules, suggesting that the uNK cells of the Tg2Rβ mice had cytotoxic activity.
The effects of Ca2+ concentration in activation medium and cytochalasin B treatment after activation on the parthenogenetic development of pig oocytes were examined. In addition, cloned embryos derived from miniature pig somatic cells were activated under optimal conditions and the effects of Ca2+ in fusion medium on the development of embryos after activation was examined. When oocytes were activated in 0.1 mM Ca2+ and then treated with cytochalasin B, the blastocyst formation rate (28.6%) was significantly higher than those activated in 0-0.05 or 1.0 mM (11.0-18.3%). Treatment with cytochalasin B decreased the second polar body extrusion rate of activated oocytes. The presence or absence of Ca2+ in fusion medium did not affect the fusion rate of miniature pig somatic cells with recipient oocytes. A few cloned embryos developed to the blastocyst stage (2.7-9.0%) without an additional activation treatment. On the other hand, significantly more embryos developed to the blastocyst stage after activation treatment when they were fused in the absence (28.9%) of Ca2+ rather than the presence (16.5%) of it. These results show that the highest blastocyst formation rate for miniature pig cloned embryos is obtained when donor cells and recipient oocytes are fused in the absence of Ca2+ and then activated in 0.1 mM Ca2+ and treated with cytochalasin B.
Ovarian dysfunction leading to hormonal imbalance plays a crucial role in uterine carcinogenesis in rats as well as women. However, the effects of a reduction in primordial follicles at birth on uterine adenocarcinoma development have hitherto not been determined. The present study was therefore conducted using female Donryu rats, a high incidence rat strain of uterine adenocarcinoma. The animals were maternally exposed to 2.5 or 5.0 mg/kg of busulfan on gestation day 14 to reduce primordial follicles, and were then initiated by intrauterine treatment with N-ethyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine at 11 weeks of age. Both busulfan treatment doses caused earlier occurrence of persistent estrus, with dose-dependence as compared to controls. At 15 months of age, the rats were euthanized. The incidence of uterine adenocarcinomas and multiplicity of uterine neoplastic lesions were significantly increased by the 5.0 mg/kg, but not the 2.5 mg/kg busulfan treatment. Morphologically, the ovaries exposed to busulfan treatment exhibited severe atrophy, with few or no follicles and corpus lutea. Serum 17β-estradiol (E2), progesterone, and inhibin levels were significantly decreased in the busulfan treatment groups, with a clear dose-relation. Interestingly, only the 5.0 mg/kg busulfan treatment elevated the E2/progesterone ratio. These results provide evidence that the reduction of primordial follicles promotes uterine adenocarcinoma development in rats in association with an earlier occurrence of the persistent estrus status.
The aim of the present study was to determine changes in the density of sympathetic nerves in porcine ovaries with dexamethasone (DXM)-induced cysts and the alterations in steroidogenic activity and amounts of catecholamines in the affected gonads. Cystic ovaries were supplied by numerous sympathetic nerve fibers. The amount of noradrenaline in the cysts (fluid, wall) was significantly higher than in the large follicles of the control group. After DXM injections, the amounts of noradrenaline and adrenaline significantly increased in the walls of small and medium-sized follicles. In the cysts (fluid, wall) the levels of androgens and estrogens were significantly lower, whereas progesterone was higher in the cystic wall. DXM administration led to a significant increase in the estrone content in the fluid of small follicles. Moreover, a decrease in the amounts of progesterone and androgens was found in the follicular fluid and walls of medium-sized follicles. DXM injections resulted in a significant increase in the immunoexpression of P450scc and 3β-HSD in the cysts, a significant increase of P450scc in the follicles, and a decrease of 3β-HSD and P450arom. The present study shows that the DXM treatment leads to an increase in the density of intraovarian sympathetic nerves, paralleled by the amount of catecholamines, and that it is capable of changing the steroidogenic activity of porcine ovary bearing cysts. Thus, it appears possible that these events may be, at least partly, involved in the pathogenesis of this disorder.
This study was designed to determine whether leptin modulates growth hormone (GH)- and insulin like growth factor-I (IGF-I)-stimulated progesterone (P4) production by corpora lutea (CL). Luteal cells were recovered from early developing (ELP) and mature (MLP) corpora lutea and cultured in defined medium with various combinations of GH, IGF-I, and leptin (0-200 ng/ml). P4 concentrations in the media were determined after 48 h of culture. During the early luteal phase, leptin at all used doses had no effect on basal P4 secretion, but it did suppress caspase-3 activity. When added in combination with GH, it had no effect on either GH-stimulated P4 secretion or apoptosis. Concomitant treatment with IGF-I and leptin decreased P4 secretion and parallelly increased the apoptosis rate. In mature corpora lutea of full secreting capacity, leptin at all doses had no effect on basal and GH-stimulated P4 secretion and caspase-3 activity. Only at the highest dose (200 ng/ml) when leptin was added with IGF-I did P4 secretion decrease with no effect on the caspase-3 activity. We conclude that the role of leptin is to restrict the stage of CL formation. During this luteal phase, leptin acts as an antiapoptotic factor and, at the same time, reverses antiapoptotic action of IGF-I, thereby protecting cells from excessive apoptosis and supporting retention of appropriate cell numbers, which is necessary for maintenance of homeostasis in developing CL.
We examined motility, plasma membrane integrity, and binding capacity to homologous zona pellucidae (ZP) of frozen/thawed epididymal cat sperm as a model species for endangered felines. Epididymal spermatozoa from 20 domestic cats were frozen with freezing egg-yolk extender containing 3.0% glycerol in 0.25-ml straws. Post-thaw motility and plasma membrane integrity of the frozen/thawed spermatozoa were 31.8 ± 2.4% and 32.2 ± 4.2%, respectively. The frozen/thawed spermatozoa were co-cultured with frozen/thawed immature homologous oocytes with intact ZP for 3 h to examine their ability to bind to the ZP. Sixteen of the 20 frozen/thawed sperm samples demonstrated the ability to bind to ZP. These results indicated that the freezing system for epididymal sperm used in the present study gives appropriate information for banking the genetic resources of wild felid species.
This is the first report to show morphological evidence of in vitro maturation of oocytes recovered from xenotransplanted antral follicles. To develop a suitable tool for studing the growth and maturation of follicles and oocytes, we xenotransplanted small pieces of ovarian cortical tissue from sows, which contained small preantral follicles (primordial, primary, and secondary follicles; less than 0.05, 0.1 and 0.3 mm in diameter, respectively), under the capsules of kidneys of adult female severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice for 2 and 8 weeks, and then recovered cumulus-oocyte complexes from the growing tertiary follicles in xenografted tissues. The distribution of processes from cumulus cells to oocytes and the follicular growth, development, and maturation during xenotransplantation were histochemically analyzed. Tertiary follicles, 0.5 to 3.0 mm in diameter, were obtained from grafted tissues 2 (85%: 52 follicles/61 grafted tissues) and 8 (50%: 15/30) weeks after xenotransplantation, and then oocytes, which were tightly attached to cumulus cells, were collected from each tertiary follicle and cultured to assess their quality. At 2 weeks after grafting, 17.6% of the oocytes had matured to the metaphase II stage, but no such maturation was observed 8 weeks after grafting. Thus, in the 2 weeks group, preantral follicles rapidly grew in xenotransplanted porcine ovarian tissues to the tertiary stage, and oocytes could be recovered and matured from them by in vitro culture.
Bisected bovine embryos were co-transferred with trophoblastic vesicles (TVs). These TVs were prepared by dissection of conceptuses that were collected by uterine flushing after culture for seven days in the uterus following transfer of embryos derived by in vitro fertilization (IVF). Pregnancy diagnoses were performed twice, between Day 26 and Day 43 and between Day 38 and Day 73 post-estrus by ultrasonography. The pregnancy rate was significantly increased at first pregnancy diagnosis when demi-embryos were transferred with TVs (66.7%, 16/24) compared with the control group (34.5%, 10/29) (P<0.05). Three losses occurred in the co-transfer group between the first and second pregnancy diagnosis. The final pregnancy rates according to delivered offspring were 41.7% (10/24) and 27.6% (8/29), respectively. There were no statistically significant differences between the pregnant and non-pregnant groups with regard to the average diameter of the TVs measured before transfer at three points during the gestation period. The birth weight and gestation lengths of the offspring were almost the same for the co-transfer and control groups. In the co-transfer group, the genetic identities of calves from the separated embryos were not affected by the TVs, as confirmed by parental blood type testing. Delivered offspring in co-transferred groups showed normal morphology. In conclusion, the present study indicates that co-transfer of TVs prepared from conceptuses cultured in vivo following transfer of IVF embryos enhances the fertility of demi-embryos during the early stages of pregnancy, as has similarly been shown in previous research for those prepared from in vivo embryos.
Determining the immune responses to the development of endometritis during the peripartum period may assist in the development of more efficient reproductive management regimens for dairy herds. In this study, we compared the peripartum immune responses of dairy cows that develop endometritis by 4 weeks postpartum (n=11) to cows that did not develop this disease (n=19). Blood samples were collected 1 week before calving, just after or during calving, and then at weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4 postpartum. Cows that developed endometriris had significantly higher total leukocyte, neutrophil, lymphocyte, and monocyte counts than the control cows (P<0.05) at all time points. The leukocytes from cows that developed endometritis were significantly less phagocytic than those from control cows at all sampling time points (P<0.01). The serum TNFα concentrations of the control cows decreased linearly from the prepartum time point (P=0.0029), but the endometritis cows showed a different profile (P>0.05). As a result, the serum TNFα concentrations were greater in the endometritis group (P<0.01) than in the control group during the third and fourth weeks postpartum. The greater total leukocyte numbers and neutrophil, lymphocyte and monocyte counts, and the maintenance of elevated serum TNFα levels in the cows with endometritis may be due to infection in the postpartum period. Furthermore, the decreased phagocytic capacity of leukocytes during the peripartum period, including at the prepartum time point, makes cows more susceptible to postpartum endometritis.
The current success rate of cloned mice from adult somatic cell nuclei is very low, whereas it is relatively high for cloned mice from ES cell nuclei. In this experiment, we examined whether the success rate of cloning from somatic cells could be improved via nuclear transfer embryonic stem cells (ntES cells) established from somatic cell nuclei. We obtained 11 cloned mice and 68 ntES cell lines from the somatic cell nuclei of 7 mice, and cloned 41 mice were cloned from the ntES cell nuclei. Unexpectedly, the overall success rate of cloning from ntES cell nuclei in this series was no better than when using somatic cell nuclei. Interestingly, full-term cloned mice were produced only via ntES cells from two individuals, but not by direct nuclear transfer from the somatic cells, and vice versa. Ultimately, we were able to obtain clone mice from 6 out of 7 individuals using either somatic cells or ntES cells. Thus, although ntES cells as donor nuclei do not absolutely assure a better success rate for mouse cloning than somatic cells, to preserve and clone valuable individuals, we recommend that ntES cell lines be established. These can then be used as an unlimited source of donor nuclei for nuclear transfer, and thus complement conventional somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning approaches.
To clarify the roles of uterine natural killer (uNK) cells in implantation and parturition, differentiation and elimination of uNK cells in the pregnant uterus was examined using artificial delayed implantation (DI) and delayed parturition (DP) mice. To prepare DI mice, pregnant mice were ovariectomized on the third day of pregnancy (D3) and treated with 2 mg progesterone daily. The same amount of progesterone was administered on D15 or D17 of normal pregnant mice at 24 h intervals until sampling to prepare DP mice. The uNK cells contained PAS-positive granules on D8 in DI mice. The uNK cells in DI mice were smaller in size, and differentiation of these cells was delayed compared to those of the control mice. From D19 to D21 in DP mice, the metrial gland was well developed and uNK cells were present. The number of uNK cell granules decreased on D21, and there were no uNK cells in the normal pregnant mice. This result suggests that differentiation of uNK cells is not directly related to implantation, but elimination of these cells is closely involved in parturition.
To understand roles of interleukin 6 (IL-6) family cytokines for pregnancy in mice, localization of IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) mRNA was investigated in non- and early pregnant uteri by in situ hybridization. IL-6R mRNA was expressed in all non-pregnant uteri and in pregnant uteri from the third day (Day 3) to the sixth day of pregnancy (Day 6; the day of plug=Day 1). IL-6R mRNA signals were detected in non-pregnant mice in the luminal and glandular epithelium. Signal strength varied according to the sexual cycle. There was no correlation between the signal strength of the IL-6R mRNA and the serum concentrations of progesterone and 17β-estradiol, which show a monophasic rise in the non-pregnant sexual cycle. In pregnant mice, slight signals were detectable in the luminal and glandular epithelium on Day 3. IL-6R mRNA messages increased with progression towards Day 4, however, localization changed drastically on Day 5. Stromal cells abruptly expressed their mRNA on Day 5, and these cells strongly expressed it on Day 6. The function of IL-6R in the luminal and glandular epithelium might be different from that in the stroma during the implantation period. In addition, few signals were identified in the stromal cells adjacent to the luminal epithelium on Day 6. This suggests that there are two types of stromal cells on Day 6 in mice.
This study was conducted to improve parthenogenetic development in vitro of feline oocytes following a combined activation treatment of electrical stimulation and cycloheximide. In vitro matured (IVM) oocytes were stimulated electrically by a DC electrical pulse of 2 kV/cm for 50 μs. The stimulated oocytes were then incubated in MK-1 medium with or without cycloheximide and subsequently cultured in vitro for 6 days. No significant differences were observed between the two groups with respect to the proportions of cleavage, development to the morula stage, and the cell number of blastocysts. However, exposure of electrically stimulated oocytes to cycloheximide significantly increased the rate of development of the stimulated oocytes into the blastocyst stage compared with oocytes stimulated by electrical stimulation alone (31.0% vs 6.7%). The results from the present study suggested that a single electrical stimulation was insufficient to activate the IVM cat oocytes at 24 h of maturation and that exposure to cycloheximide following electrical stimulation improved the efficacy of the parthenogenetic development of domestic cat oocytes.
The mRNA expression patterns of EGF, HB-EGF, Amphiregulin, EGF receptor, IGF-1, CSF-1, IL-1 alpha, IL-1 beta, IL-1 receptor type 1, IL-1 receptor antagonist, LIF, COX-1, COX-2, Mucin-1, calcitonin, and rat USAG-1 mouse homologue, all of which are involved in the process of conceptus implantation to the endometrium, were examined during the estrous cycle by means of real-time quantitative PCR. COX-2, HB-EGF, LIF, Mucin-1, CSF-1, IL-1 alpha, IL-1 beta, and IL-1 receptor antagonist were temporally regulated during the estrous cycle and highly expressed during the estrous stage. In the case of COX-1, EGF, IGF-1, and EGF receptor, the highest mRNA expression was during the diestrous stage. In contrast, the rat USAG-1 mouse homologue mRNA expression did not change during the estrous cycle. These results indicate that rat USAG-1 mouse homologue expression at implantation might be specifically regulated by embryonic factors rather than the maternal environment.
To clarify the roles of granulated metrial gland (GMG) cells for successful pregnancy in rats, GMG cells in beige rats (genotype: DA-bg/bg), whose NK cells show lysosomal dysfunction because of abnormalities in cytoplasmic granules, were examined in mid- and late-pregnancy by light and electron microscopies. The GMG cells of beige rats were significantly less in number than those of the two controls (genotypes: DA-bg/+ and DA-+/+) in mid- and late-pregnancy, and this accompanied a low reproductive performance in the beige rats. The size of intracellular granules in the GMG cells of the beige rats was larger than for the two controls on each corresponding day of pregnancy. These results suggest that the activity of rat GMG cells and peripheral NK cells might be influenced by the beige gene, which is involved in reproductive performance.
Two experiments were conducted to compare the effect of estrus induction by controlled internal drug release (CIDR) and intravaginal cream containing 500 mg progesterone (P cream) in ewes during the non-breeding season. In the first experiment, twenty-four ewes were randomly grouped for two treatments with the different intravaginal devices for 12 days: Group A was the CIDR group and Group B was the P cream group. Blood was collected from all treated ewes, and progesterone (P4), estradiol 17-β (E2) and luteinizing hormone (LH) concentrations were measured by enzyme immunoassay. In the second experiment, the conception rates from natural mating, estrus-detected AI (inseminated 12 h after estrus detection), or fixed-time AI (inseminated 42 h after removal of an intravaginal device) in 127 ewes treated with CIDR or P cream were compared. In Experiment 1, the rate of estrus induction and the time of estrus onset after device removal were 91.7% and 36.3 ± 15.7 h in Group A, and 100% and 35.0 ± 12.6 h in Group B, respectively. There were no significant differences between the devices. The mean plasma P4 concentration in Group B was significantly (P<0.01) lower than Group A between day -9 and day -1 (Day 0: the day of device removal). However, no significant differences were found in the mean E2 concentrations of the two groups after treatment. The mean time of estrus onset in ewes with an observed LH surge and the time of LH surge after treatment were 23.3 ± 8.7 h and 30.3 ± 5.0 h for Group A and 27.6 ± 6.5 and 26.3 ± 8.0 h for Group B, respectively, and there were no significant differences. However, a significant difference (P<0.05) was found in the mean time from the time of estrus onset to LH surge between Group A (6.4 ± 6.7 h) and Group B (-1.3 ± 4.1 h). In Experiment 2, the conception rates for natural mating, estrus-detected AI, and fixed-time AI were 55.0, 29.4, and 25.0% for Group A and 40.7, 25.0, and 42.1% for Group B, respectively, and there were no significant differences. These results suggest that the effect of induction of estrus and ovulation and the rate of conception after treatment were comparable to CIDR even though the plasma P4 concentration of the P cream method tended to be low during the insertion period.