In vitro maturation (IVM) of immature oocytes is an important reproductive technology that generates mature oocytes that are capable of supporting preimplantation embryo development and full development to turm. The developmental competence of oocytes after in vitro fertilization (IVF) was supported in cumulus-cell density dependent manner. The developmental competence of oocytes matured under low oxygen (5% O2) tension was higher than that of oocytes matured under high oxygen tensinon (20% O2) due to the decrease of reactive oxygen content in the oocyte. To expand the availability of female gamete, an attempt to culture the growing oocytes have been made. We have focused attention on the mitochondrial activity of in vitro grown (IVG) oocytes and shown that L-Carnitine, which acts as a carrier of fatty acids across the inner mitochondrial membrane for subsequent β-oxidation, supported the viability of growing oocytes. Nowadays, IVM is gaining acceptance in assisted reproductive technology in cattle and human.
The low efficiency of animal production using somatic cell nuclear transfer (NT-SC) procedures is considered to be the result of an incomplete reprogramming of donor cell nucleus, which leads to abnormal expression of developmentally important genes. We analyzed the abundance of gene transcripts of Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)- related genes in single embryos derived from NT-SC, and determined changes in the transcription of IGF-related genes in blastocyst and elongated stage embryos produced by NT-SC. The present results of an analysis of mRNA transcripts at two different stages of development demonstrate that bovine NT-SC embryos show deviations in their expression patterns with respect to IGF-related genes. Changes in the expression of the IGF family may be responsible for the altered growth characteristics seen in fetuses and offspring originating from bovine embryos obtained using the NT-SC procedure.
Successful implantation depends on active dialogue between the maternal endometrium and the implanting blastocysts that is well controlled by groups of regulators at the molecular level. Dickkopf2 (Dkk2) is a member of Dickkopf family normally acting as an antagonist of canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signaling, which has been proven to participate in tumorigenesis and early embryo development. In order to explore the potential function of Dkk2 in embryo implantation, the present study investigated the uterine expression and regulation profiles of Dkk2 during periimplantation in mice. Using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, immunohistochemistry and Western blotting, we showed that the mRNA and protein levels of Dkk2 began to increase in the glandular epithelium on day 4, continued to increase on day 5 and then decreased from day 6 of pregnancy. Moreover, on days 5-8 of pregnancy, Dkk2 was increasingly expressed in the deciduum of the uterus, especially around the implanting embryos. In addition, upregulation of Dkk2 was also observed in uteri treated with estrogen (estradiol-17β) as well as in oil-induced artificial decidualization, indicating that the expression of Dkk2 could be induced by both steroid hormone (estrogen) and the process of decidualization. Furthermore, in the postimplantation uterus, the Dkk2 protein showed an inversed expression with active beta-catenin from day 6 onward, supporting the notion that Dkk2 plays an inhibitory role against canonical Wnt signaling in the context of the decidualizing stroma. Collectively, our data suggests that Dkk2 expression is associated with uterine receptivity changes as well as the process of decidualization and that it might play important roles through inhibition of canonical Wnt signaling in the periimplantation uterus.
Although endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may interfere with the endocrine system(s) of our body and have estrogenicity or androgenicity, the exact mechanism(s) underlying their detrimental effects is not clearly understood. Thus, in this study, we evaluated the effects of EDCs on proliferation and regulation of transcription of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive BG-1 ovarian cancer cells, and their possible mechanisms were further examined. Treatment with bisphenol A (BPA), nonylphenol (NP), octylphenol (OP) and methoxychlor (MXC) for 24 h resulted in an increase of cell proliferation. Treatment with BPA, NP, OP and MXC increased the estrogen response element (ERE) activity. The increase of cell proliferation and activation of ERE were reversed in the presence of an estrogen receptor antagonist, ICI 182780. These results suggest that ER is involved in EDC-mediated pathway in ovarian cancer cells. Based on this, we further investigated the involvement of EDCs in activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in relation to cell growth. BPA rapidly induced activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 and p38 MAPK at 15 min, but the effect of BPA (10 μM) on stimulation of cell growth was not blocked by pretreatment with inhibitors of MEK (PD98059) or p38 (SB203580) in a dose-dependent manner. Taken together, EDC-induced proliferation is mediated by a genomic effect through ERs and ERE, but EDC-activated MAPK is unlikely to be involved in EDC-induced cell growth in estrogen-responsive ovarian cancer cells.
ERK-type MAP kinase activity is required for normal first meiotic (MI) metaphase spindle dynamics and first polar body formation at the MI/MII transition, and for MII arrest until egg activation. MEK and MAPK, however, remain active until meiosis is completed and pronuclei form, but whether MEK/MAPK activity affects MII spindle function during egg activation has been unknown. Polarized light microscopy revealed that the MII spindle rapidly (within approximately 15 min) lost birefringence upon treatment of the egg with U0126, indicating decreased organization at the molecular level upon MEK inhibition. In contrast, birefringence rapidly increased when MPF was inhibited with roscovitine, and this was similar to the increased birefringence previously shown after fertilization or parthenogenetic activation with Sr2+. Confocal microscopy indicated that many spindles in U0126-activated eggs had failed to rotate or were dissociated from the egg cortex. Subsequently, abnormally-located midbodies were evident in U0126-induced parthenogenotes. Thus, MEK/MAPK activity is required to maintain the ordered structure of the MII spindle and for normal spindle dynamics during second polar body formation.
The effect of short-term nutritional supplementation on hormonal and ovarian dynamics was studied in goats. Cycling Shiba goats were divided randomly into maintenance (group M, n=4) and high-energy (group H, n=4) groups. After the detection of the ovulation (Day 0, 1st ovulation), group H received a high-energy diet providing 2.5 times of the maintenance energy requirement for 7 days from Day 7 to Day 13 and were administered 2 mg of prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α) on Day 10 to induce luteal regression followed by the follicular phase. Follicular and luteal dynamics were monitored using ultrasonography daily or every other day, and blood samples were collected daily from Day 0 to the third ovulation (3rd ovulation) following the second ovulation (2nd ovulation) induced by PGF2α administration. Blood samples were also collected at 10-min intervals for 6 h on Day 9 and Day 11 for analysis of pulsatile LH secretion. The mean concentrations of glucose and insulin were significantly (P<0.05) higher in group H than in group M on Days 8, 9, 12, 13 and Days 8, 9 and 10, respectively. For both the 2nd and 3rd ovulations, no significant difference was detected in ovulation rate between groups M and H. On the other hand, the interpeak interval for wave-like patterns of FSH in group H was significantly (P<0.05) shorter than in group M during the period between the 1st and 2nd ovulations (4.3 ± 0.3 vs. 6.5 ± 1.5 days). The mean LH pulse frequency in group H was significantly (P<0.05) greater than in group M on Day 11 (4.5 ± 0.6 vs. 3.3 ± 0.5 pulses/6 h). The present study clearly demonstrated that short-term (7 days) nutritional supplementation promoted pulsatile LH and wave-like FSH secretions in cycling goats. However, no significant increase in ovarian performance was found under such endocrine and metabolic conditions.
The aim of the present study was to assess the effect of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) and acetamide on the post-thaw properties of hare semen and to perform an AI trial with frozen-thawed semen. Semen was collected under general anaesthesia by the electroejaculation method from 6 males. Immediately after collection, the semen was diluted with an extender containing the following components: 250 mM Tris, 80 mM citric acid, 70 mM glucose, 1.0 M DMSO, egg yolk (17% v/v) and kanamycin (80 mg/l); this extender was used for Protocol I (n=17). In Protocol II (n=15), the DMSO was replaced with 1.0 M acetamide. Immediately after thawing and after incubation for 90 and 180 min at 37 C, the properties of semen were evaluated by computer-assisted semen analysis, and the percentage of viable, acrosome intact spermatozoa was evaluated using flow cytometry. During the 3-h incubation, the percentages of motile spermatozoa and spermatozoa with progressive motility were significantly higher in Protocol I (P<0.01). Immediately after thawing, path and straight velocity were significantly higher in Protocol I (P<0.01), as was the curvilinear velocity (P<0.05). The amplitude of lateral head displacement was higher after 3-h incubation in Protocol I (P<0.05), and no differences in beat cross frequency were found between Protocol I and II at any incubation time. The percentage of viable, acrosome intact spermatozoa determined with flow cytometry was higher in Protocol I (P<0.01) at all incubation times. As a result of artificial insemination with the semen frozen with DMSO as a cryoprotectant, two out of three inseminated females delivered two healthy young each. Following artificial insemination with the semen frozen with acetamide as a cryoprotectant, two out of three inseminated females delivered one healthy young each. On the basis of the results, it should be stated that DMSO ensures better post-thaw properties of hare spermatozoa than acetamide.
The present study aimed to investigate the fertility of ewes artificially inseminated with three different methods using a synthetic semen extender, AndroMed. The three methods of artificial insemination (AI) were cervical AI with fresh-diluted or frozen-diluted semen at observed estrus, and an intrauterine AI with frozen-thawed semen. A total of 80 ewes were treated with a controlled internal drug release (CIDR) containing 0.3 g progesterone per device for 12 days. In Experiment 1 (26 Suffolk ewes), superovulation was induced with 20 mg follicle-stimulating hormone and 250 IU equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) two days and one day before CIDR removal, respectively, during the non-breeding season. In Experiment 2 (54 Suffolk and Suffolk crossbred ewes), an intramuscular injection of 500 IU eCG was administered one day before CIDR removal to synchronize estrus and ovulation during the breeding season. In Experiment 1, fresh-diluted or frozen-thawed semen was deposited into the cervical orifice after estrus detection, and an intrauterine AI with frozen-thawed semen was performed by laparoscopy at a fixed-time basis without estrus detection. Embryos were recovered by uterine flushing 6 days after AI, and the rates of recovered, fertilized (cleaved) ova and embryos at the morula or blastocyst stage were compared among the three AI methods. In Experiment 2, the pregnancy rates after the three AI methods were compared. In Experiment 1, the rates of recovered ova were not significantly different among the three AI methods (52.5-56.7%). The rate of fertilized ova (81.0%) by laparoscopic AI with frozen-thawed semen was significantly higher compared with cervical AI of fresh-diluted (25.5%) or frozen-thawed (3.5%) semen, but the rate of embryos at the morula or blastocyst stage (17.6%) was significantly lower than that of the cervical AI with fresh-diluted semen (69.2%). The rates of ewes yielding fertilized ova were not significantly different among the three groups (44.4, 11.1 and 62.5% for cervical AI with fresh-diluted and frozen-thawed semen and intrauterine AI with frozen-thawed semen). In Experiment 2, the pregnancy rate of ewes intrauterinally inseminated with frozen-thawed semen (72.2%) was significantly higher than those of ewes inseminated cervically with fresh-diluted (5.5%) or frozen-thawed (0.0%) semen. The present results showed that acceptable fertilization and pregnancy rates could be obtained by an intrauterine AI with frozen-thawed semen using a synthetic semen extender (AndroMed), but not sufficient by the cervical AI with either fresh or frozen semen.
The objectives of these investigations were to develop an ovine model for Escherichia coli (E. coli)-induced preterm delivery, and monitor ewe hormonal response. EXP 1: Ewes (105 ± 13 days of gestation) were allotted to the following intra-uterine inoculations: Saline-(CON; n=5); 1 × 106 CFU/ml (Low Treatment, LT; n=6); or 1 × 107 CFU/ml (High Treatment, HT; n=6) E. coli. Twenty-four h after inoculation, the HT ewes had increased (P<0.05) cortisol compared to LT and CON ewes, and HT and LT ewes had increased (P<0.05) progesterone compared to CON ewes. Preterm delivery was 33% for LT ewes and 0% for HT and CON ewes. EXP 2: Ewes (124 ± 18 days of gestation) were allotted to the following intra-uterine inoculations using lux-modified E. coli: Trial-1: Luria Broth (LB; CT1; n=5); 4.0 × 106 CFU (n=5), 20.0 × 106 CFU (n=5); and Trial-2: LB (CT2; n=5), 1.2 × 106 CFU (n=5), and 5.6 × 106 CFU (n=5) E. coli-lux. Preterm delivery occurred between 48 and 120 h post-inoculation in 60, 25, 60 and 75% of ewes infected with 1.2, 4.0, 5.6, and 20 × 106 CFU, respectively. Serum cortisol and progesterone did not differ (P>0.05) between CT1 or CT2 and inoculated ewes. In summary, 25 to 75% of ewes inoculated preterm delivered. However, variable results in cortisol and progesterone profiles between Control and inoculated ewes were observed between the two studies.
This study was conducted to examine uterine changes and uterocervical discharges following intrauterine infusion with liquid paraffin (LP) during the luteal phase by ultrasonic and vaginoscopic examinations in cows. Multiparous dairy cows (n=10) were infused with 50 ml physiological saline (PS group; n=5) or liquid paraffin (LP group; n=5) on day 10 or 11 after ovulation (day 0: ovulation). Vaginoscopic, rectal and ultrasonogaphic examinations were carried out at 0.25, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12 and 24 h after the LP and PS infusion and then at daily intervals until subsequent ovulation after the infusions. The mean volumes of recovered discharges from the vagina within 6 h after infusion were significantly greater (P<0.05) in the LP group than in the PS group (33.0 ± 9.9 vs.14.0 ± 13.9 ml). Yellowish-white discharge was first observed at 3.2 ± 0.5 and 3.6 ± 0.6 h after infusion and lasted for 12.2 ± 2.9 and 2.1 ± 1.5 days for the LP and PS groups, respectively, showing a significant difference (P<0.05) in duration. Subsequently, transparent discharge appeared again 2-3 days before the subsequent ovulation after the treatments in both groups and disappeared on the day prior to or the day of ovulation. During the immediate examination after the infusion, the cavity of the uterine horn appeared anechoic and dilated in the images of both groups. The anechoic images changed to echoic images at 2.2 ± 0.8 and 2.6 ± 0.9 h after the infusion in the LP and PS groups, respectively, and the echoic images lasted for 12.2 ± 2.9 and 2.1 ± 1.5 days in the LP and PS groups, respectively. These results suggest that the appearance and disappearance of intrauterine anechoic and echoic images reflect the appearance and disappearance of the characteristics of the recovered LP/PS-like liquid and yellowish-white and transparent discharges from the vagina.
The objective was to determine whether aging of sperm caused by incubation at normothermic (38.5 C) or heat shock (40 C) temperatures for 4 h prior to oocyte insemination affects sperm motility, fertilizing ability, competence of the resultant embryo to develop to the blastocyst stage and blastocyst sex ratio. In the first experiment, the percent of sperm that were motile was reduced by aging (P<0.001) and the reduction in motility was greater for sperm at 40 C compared to sperm at 38.5 C (P<0.01). In the second experiment, oocytes were inseminated with aged sperm. A smaller percent of oocytes fertilized with sperm aged at either temperature cleaved by Day 3 after insemination than oocytes fertilized with fresh sperm (P<0.05). There was no effect of sperm aging on the percent of oocytes or cleaved embryos that developed to the blastocyst stage. Aging of sperm before fertilization at 38.5 C reduced the percent of blastocysts that were male (P=0.08). In the third experiment, incubation of sperm at 38.5 C or 40 C for 4 h did not reduce fertilizing ability of sperm as determined by pronuclear formation at 18 h post insemination. In conclusion, aging of sperm reduced cleavage rate and the percent of blastocysts that were males but had no effect on the developmental capacity of the embryo. The effect of aging on cleavage rate may represent reduced motility and errors occurring after fertilization and pronuclear formation. Aging at a temperature characteristic of maternal hyperthermia had little additional effect except that polyspermy was reduced. Results indicate that embryo competence for development to the blastocyst stage is independent of sperm damage as a result of aging for 4 h at normothermic or hyperthermic temperatures.
After reaching metaphase II, in vitro matured oocytes undergo the complex processes referred to as oocyte aging. Under our culture conditions, some aged oocytes remained at the stage of metaphase II, some underwent spontaneous parthenogenetic activation and others underwent cellular death, either through apoptosis (fragmentation) or lysis. We investigated the effect of c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNK) and p38 Mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) inhibition on pig oocyte aging and the activity of JNK and p38 MAPK during the aging period. Inhibition of JNK protected the oocytes from fragmentation (0% fragmented oocytes under JNK inhibition vs. 26% fragmented oocytes in the control group). Inhibition of p38 MAPK had no effect on fragmentation. Inhibition of JNK also had an influence on spontaneous parthenogenetic activation of aged oocytes. The ratio of activated JNK to total JNK decreased during aging of oocytes. However, exit from MII had no effect on it. The ratio of activated p38 MAPK to total p38 MAPK did not change significantly. The phosphorylated form of JNK is present in fragmented and activated oocytes, while lysed oocytes lack the active form of JNK. Based on our data, we can conclude that JNK plays an active role in fragmentation of pig oocytes and that p38 MAPK is not involved in this process.
Quantification based on cleavage division (CD) of bovine preimplantation embryos facilitates quantitative analyses of embryonic developmental processes because CD occurs roughly once each day for all blastomeres for up to at least 9 days after ovulation. Therefore, embryonic morphological changes during this period were classified according to CD number. In this study, embryos collected from superovulated donors 0-9 days after ovulation were first classified morphologically into 14 conventional developmental stages. The total cell numbers (TCN) of embryos were measured using the air-dry method. The respective CD numbers of the embryos were then determined using logarithmic transformation of the TCN. The CD numbers of embryos were increased 0-10th with 11 stages. The 0th CD corresponded to 1-cell stage embryos; the 1st CD corresponded to 2-cell stage embryos; the 2nd CD corresponded to 3-4-cell stage embryos; the 3rd CD corresponded to 5-8-cell stage embryos; the 4th CD corresponded to 9-16-cell stage embryos, the 5th CD corresponded to morulae (17-32-cell stage embryos); and the 6th CD corresponded to the compact morulae. Furthermore, the 7th CD included early blastocysts to blastocysts. The 8th CD included expanded, collapsed and hatching blastocysts. The 9th CD included hatched blastocysts. The 10th CD included expanding-hatched blastocysts. The relationship between the CD number and the morphological characteristics of the bovine embryos 0-9 days after ovulation was expressed using a linear equation, and this revealed a high degree of correlation (y=0.98x-0.96, r=0.99). These results suggest that morphological changes of bovine embryos can be classified accurately using an 11-stage classification system based on the number of cleavages.
In mammalian embryo culture, the embryo:medium volume ratio can substantially affect embryo developmental performance. In the present study, we tested the possibility of improving the growth of bovine oocytes by reducing the medium volume, from a typical volume used in mouse follicle culture to a minimum possible level. A total of 282 complexes, each containing a growing oocyte 87-100 μm in diameter, were individually placed in microdrops of 2, 5, 10 or 20 μl and cultured for 13 days in a modified TCM-199 supplemented with 4% polyvinylpyrrolidone (molecular weight: 360 kDa). Oocyte diameter was measured every other day to trace the growth of each oocyte. Half the medium was replaced every other day or every day, and comparison revealed that daily replacement was more favorable for culture of these microdrops. The highest survival rate, 95%, occurred in the 20-μl microdrops, where most oocytes continued to grow throughout the culture period. In comparison, in the 5- and 10-μl microdrops, more oocytes died, and growth slowed towards the end of culture. In the 2-μl microdrops, which had the highest death rate, growth virtually ceased after 9 days. The surviving oocytes were usually accompanied by a characteristic dome-like structure of the granulosa cell mass, except in the 2-μl microdrops. In conclusion, the 20-μl microdrops allowed oocyte growth at an acceptable level, and any further reduction of the volume only had a negative impact on oocytes.
Embryos transfer is one of the most critical steps for generating genetically modified mice. Because of the limitations of the current transfer equipment and techniques, such as discharge of freshly transferred embryos and the necessity of sophisticated transfer skills, the success ratio of implantation may not well satisfy the requirements for mass production of high quality animals in the field of genetically modified mice. In this study, we describe a modified embryo transfer pipette with a syringe-like tip that can easily be applied to mouse embryo transfer. Using this improved method, we show that the procedures for mouse embryo implantation are simplified and easier to perform; moreover, the viability rate of mouse embryos is 20% higher than that achieved with conventional methods. Our modified tool and improved transfer technique are effective, time-saving and less invasive, resulting in increased success of embryo transfer.