This study was conducted to assess the fertilization and development of porcine oocytes matured in a solo follicular fluid (pFF) using different in vitro culture systems and insemination periods. Cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs), follicular cells (FCs), and pFF were collected from the follicles of ovaries. The pFF was used as a maturation medium (MpFF) after supplementation with follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and antibiotics. The COCs were matured in a 15 ml test tube containing 3.5 ml of MpFF with FCs (5.2 × 106 cells/ml; rotating culture system) or 2 ml of MpFF without FCs in a 35-mm petri dish (static culture system) for 44 to 48 h. After maturation culture, oocytes were co-incubated with frozen-thawed spermatozoa for 5 h and then cultured for 7 days. The total mean rates of sperm penetration, normal fertilization, male pronucleus (MPN) formation, cleavage, and development to the blastocyst stage of oocytes after insemination were significantly higher (P<0.01) in the rotating culture system than in the static culture system. In conclusion, compared with the static culture system, the rotating culture system is adequate for the production of developmentally competent porcine oocytes when MpFF is used as a maturation medium.
The present study was designed to assess progesterone profiles at the secreted (caudal vena cava) and circulating levels (jugular vein) and luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion pattern in lactating and non-lactating cows with reference to feeding. Four lactating and four non-lactating cycling Holstein cows were examined. Blood samples were collected simultaneously from the caudal vena cava (via a catheter inserted from the coccygeal vein) and the jugular vein every 15 min for 12 h (0500–1700 h) during the functional luteal phase. Cows were fed 50% of the daily diet 6 h after the start of blood sampling. During the 12-h sampling period, mean progesterone concentrations in the caudal vena cava did not differ between lactating and non-lactating cows (49.0 ± 2.9 and 53.3 ± 3.7 ng/ml; mean ± SE), whereas mean progesterone concentrations in the jugular vein in lactating cows were higher than those in non-lactating cows (6.4 ± 0.1 and 5.6 ± 0.1 ng/ml, P < 0.001). Lactating cows had a higher frequency of LH pulses than non-lactating cows (7.0 ± 0.7 and 4.3 ± 0.9 pulses/12 h, P<0.05). The influence of feeding was not observed on LH profiles but was observed on progesterone profiles in both veins. Progesterone concentrations in the caudal vena cava increased after feeding in both groups. Progesterone concentrations in the jugular vein decreased after feeding in lactating cows but not in non-lactating cows. These results indicate the difference in feeding-related changes in progesterone dynamics between lactating and non-lactating cows.
To identify embryos individually during in vitro development, we previously developed the well-of-the-well (WOW) dish, which contains 25 microwells. Here we investigated the effect of embryo density (the number of embryos per volume of medium) on in vitro development and gene expression of bovine in vitro-fertilized embryos cultured in WOW dishes. Using both conventional droplet and WOW culture formats, 5, 15, and 25 bovine embryos were cultured in 125 μl medium for 168 h. The blastocysts at Day 7 were analyzed for number of cells and expression of ten genes (CDX2, IFN-tau, PLAC8, NANOG, OCT4, SOX2, AKR1B1, ATP5A1, GLUT1 and IGF2R). In droplet culture, the rates of formation of >4-cell cleavage embryos and blastocysts were significantly lower in embryos cultured at 5 embryos per droplet than in those cultured at 15 or 25 embryos per droplet, but not in WOW culture. In both droplet and WOW culture, developmental kinetics and blastocyst cell numbers did not differ among any groups. IFN-tau expression in embryos cultured at 25 embryos per droplet was significantly higher than in those cultured at 15 embryos per droplet and in artificial insemination (AI)-derived blastocysts. Moreover, IGF2R expression was significantly lower in the 25-embryo group than in the 5-embryo group and in AI-derived blastocysts. In WOW culture, these expressions were not affected by embryo density and were similar to those in AI-derived blastocysts. These results suggest that, as compared with conventional droplet culture, in vitro development and expression of IFN-tau and IGF2R in the microwell system may be insensitive to embryo density.
A high-estrogen environment during late pregnancy is suspected to cause postpartum silent ovulation, and progesterone (P4) is suggested to recover estrus. However, few attempts have been undertaken to elucidate the influence of these steroids on estrus by analyzing hormonal profiles. We investigated estrus and luteinizing hormone (LH) surges in ovariectomized goats (n=6) assigned to three treatments in a cross-over design. In groups 1 and 2, 200 μg/kg body weight/day estradiol benzoate (Dose-200 E2B) was administered for 14 days concurrent with P4 for 11 days, while in the control, saline solution and P4 were administered likewise. Ten days after the final administration of Dose-200 E2B, group 2 was treated with P4 for 8 days, and all groups were treated with 2 μg/kg body weight E2B (Dose-2 E2B) 20 days after the final administration of Dose-200 E2B (or saline solution). The proportion of cases expressing estrus after the administration of Dose-2 E2B was smaller (P<0.01) in group 1 than in the control (1/6, 3/6 and 6/6; groups 1 and 2 and the control, respectively). The proportions of cases generating LH surges did not differ (P>0.1) among the groups (5/6, 5/6 and 6/6; groups 1 and 2 and the control, respectively), but the peak concentrations in groups 1 and 2 (26.2 ± 14.7 and 11.3 ± 6.7 ng/ml) were lower (P<0.01) than those in the control (67.8 ± 19.4 ng/ml). These results demonstrated that elevation of plasma estrogen mimicking late pregnancy inhibits the subsequent estrus induced by estrogen simulating the follicular phase.
Human embryos for hESC derivation are often donated at the cleavage stage and of reduced quality. Poor quality embryos have lower efficiency for hESC derivation. However, cleavage stage mouse embryos develop into higher quality expanded blastocysts if they are cultured with insulin, suggesting that this approach could be used to improve hESC derivation from poor quality cleavage stage embryos. The present study used a mouse model to examine this approach. In particular we examined the effect of insulin on the number of epiblast cells in blastocysts on days 4, 5 and 6 using Oct4 and Nanog co-expression. Second we examined the effect of insulin on the frequency with which outgrowths can be derived from these. Finally, we tested whether prior culture in the presence of insulin results in blastocysts with increased capacity to generate ESC colonies. Culture of cleavage stage embryos with insulin increased the number of Oct4 and Nanog positive cells in blastocysts at all time points examined. Prior culture with insulin had no effect on outgrowths generated from blastocysts plated on days 4 or 5. However, insulin treatment of blastocysts plated on day 6 resulted in increased numbers of outgrowths with larger epiblasts compared with controls. 13% of insulin treated day 6 blastocysts produced primary ESC colonies compared with 6% of controls. In conclusion, treatment with insulin can improve epiblast cell number in mice leading to an increase with which primary ESC colonies can be generated and may improve hESC isolation from reduced quality embryos donated at the cleavage stage.
Experimental autoimmune orchitis (EAO) is a model of immunologic male infertility and pathologically characterized by lymphocytic inflammation, which causes breakdown of the testicular immune privilege with spermatogenic disturbance. Generally, murine EAO is induced by immunization with testicular homogenate (TH) from the testes of donor mice + complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) + Bordetella pertussigens (BP), and it has been considered that treatment with these two adjuvants is required to enhance the immune response against testicular antigens. However, there remains a possibility that CFA and BP may affect autoimmune responses against the testicular antigens without TH. In the present study, we examined this possibility using real-time RT-PCR, Western blotting and immunohistochemical staining. The results demonstrated that immunization with TH in combination with CFA and BP evoked more severe EAO than that with only TH. Real-time RT-PCR analyses revealed that Fas mRNA expression in TH+CFA+BP-induced EAO was significantly higher than that in TH-induced EAO. Interestingly, IL-6 mRNA expression dramatically increased in TH+CFA+BP-induced EAO; however, no apparent change in IL-6 mRNA expression occurred in TH-induced EAO. It was also noted that treatment with CFA and BP alone augmented autoimmune reactions against some testicular autoantigens. These results indicates that these adjuvants are helpful in evoking severe EAO, and treatment with the adjuvants alone can evoke autoimmune reactions against some testicular autoantigens despite the use of no TH.
Pollutants from burning of diesel fuel are hazardous to human health. Nanoparticles in diesel exhaust potentially have profound impact on fetal development and maternal endocrine function during pregnancy due to their ability to penetrate deeply into the body. To investigate the effects of nanoparticle-rich diesel exhaust (NR-DE) on pregnancy, pregnant rats were exposed to NR-DE, filtered diesel exhaust (F-DE) or clean air for 19 days of gestation. Relative weights of maternal liver and spleen to body weight were significantly lower in the NR-DE and F-DE groups than those in the control group. The serum concentration of maternal progesterone was significantly lower, while those of luteinizing hormone (LH) and corticosterone were significantly higher in the NR-DE and F-DE groups than those in the control group. The serum concentration of estradiol-17β was significantly higher in the F-DE group than that in the control group. The levels of cytochrome P450 side-chain cleavage enzyme, 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and LH receptor mRNA in the corpus luteum were significantly lower in the NR-DE and F-DE groups than those in the control. In fetuses, body weight and crown-rump length were significantly greater and shorter, respectively, in both males and females in the NR-DE and F-DE groups than those in the control group. These results demonstrate that exposure of pregnant rats to NR-DE and F-DE suppresses the function of corpora lutea and stimulates the function of the adrenal cortex, suggesting a risk of spontaneous abortion associated with maternal hormonal changes.
In mouse embryos, segregation of the inner cell mass (ICM) and trophectoderm (TE) lineages is regulated by genes, such as OCT-4, CDX2 and TEAD4. However, the molecular mechanisms that regulate the segregation of the ICM and TE lineages in porcine embryos remain unknown. To obtain insights regarding the segregation of the ICM and TE lineages in porcine embryos, we examined the mRNA expression patterns of candidate genes, OCT-4, CDX2, TEAD4, GATA3, NANOG, FGF4, FGFR1-IIIc and FGFR2-IIIc, in blastocyst and elongated stage embryos. In blastocyst embryos, the expression levels of OCT-4, FGF4 and FGFR1-IIIc were significantly higher in the ICM than in the TE, while the CDX2, TEAD4 and GATA3 levels did not differ between the ICM and TE. The expression ratio of CDX2 to OCT-4 (CDX2/OCT-4) also did not differ between the ICM and TE at the blastocyst stage. In elongated embryos, OCT-4, NANOG, FGF4 and FGFR1-IIIc were abundantly expressed in the embryo disc (ED; ICM lineage), but their expression levels were very low in the TE. In contrast, the CDX2, TEAD4 and GATA3 levels were significantly higher in the TE than in the ED. In addition, the CDX2/OCT-4 ratio was markedly higher in the TE than in the ED. We demonstrated that differences in the expression levels of OCT-4, CDX2, TEAD4, GATA3, NANOG, FGF4, FGFR1-IIIc and FGFR2-IIIc genes between ICM and TE lineages cells become more clear during development from porcine blastocyst to elongated embryos, which indicates the possibility that in porcine embryos, functions of ICM and TE lineage cells depend on these gene expressions proceed as transition from blastocyst to elongated stage.
There are few reports describing the structure and function of the whale placenta with the advance of pregnancy. In this study, therefore, the placenta and nonpregnant uterus of the Antarctic minke whale were observed morphologically and immunohistochemically. Placentas and nonpregnant uteri were collected from the 15th, 16th and 18th Japanese Whale Research Programme with Special Permit in the Antarctic (JARPA) and 1st JARPA II organized by the Institute of Cetacean Research in Tokyo, Japan. In the macro- and microscopic observations, the placenta of the Antarctic minke whale was a diffuse and epitheliochorial placenta. The chorion was interdigitated to the endometrium by primary, secondary and tertiary villi, which contained no specialized trophoblast cells such as binucleate cells, and the interdigitation became complicated with the progress of gestation. Furthermore, fetal and maternal blood vessels indented deeply into the trophoblast cells and endometrial epithelium respectively with fetal growth. The minke whale placenta showed a fold-like shape as opposed to a finger-like shape. In both nonpregnant and pregnant uteri, many uterine glands were distributed. The uterine glands in the superficial layer of the pregnant endometrium had a wide lumen and large epithelial cells as compared with those in the deep layer. On the other hand, in the nonpregnant endometrium, the uterine glands had a narrower lumen and smaller epithelial cells than in the pregnant endometrium. In immunohistochemical detection, immunoreactivity for P450scc was detected in most trophoblast cells, but not in nonpregnant uteri, suggesting that trophoblast epithelial cells synthesized and secreted the sex steroid hormones and/or their precursors to maintain the pregnancy in the Antarctic minke whale.
Here, we investigated the effect of liver abnormality on the developmental potential of bovine oocytes. Good quality oocytes from healthy cows and from animals with a liver abnormality were matured and fertilized in vitro and then cultured to the blastocyst stage. On day 7 after fertilization, embryo cleavage and development were assessed. The concentrations of glucose, nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA), γ-glutamyl transpeptidase (γ-GTP), β-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) and glutathione were measured in follicular fluids (FF). The proportion of good quality oocytes and the frequency of development to the blastocyst stage were lower in the liver anomaly group than those of the control group (P<0.05). The concentrations of γ-GTP and BHBA in the FF of the liver anomaly group were higher than those of the control group (P<0.05). The concentration of glutathione in the FF of the liver anomaly group was lower than that of the control group (P<0.05). Moreover, there was a negative correlation between these concentrations and the proportions of oocytes that developed to the blastocyst stage (P<0.05). Supplementation of the culture medium with γ-GTP or BHBA did not affect the rate of oocyte maturation but did cause a concentration-dependent reduction in the frequency of fertilized oocytes that developed to the blastocyst stage. Our findings indicate that the quality of oocytes and their potential for development are lower in cattle with liver disorders than those in healthy cattle; one possible cause may be the high concentration of γ-GTP and/or BHBA in their FF.
Age-associated deterioration in both the quality and quantity of mitochondria occurs in older women. The main aim of this study was to examine the effect of age on mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNA number) in early developmental stage bovine embryos as well as the dynamics of mtDNA number during early embryo development. Real-time PCR was used to determine mtDNA number. In vitro-produced embryos 48 h after insemination derived from Japanese black cows, ranging in age from 25 to 209 months were categorized based on their cleavage status. There was an overall negative relationship between the age of the cow and cleavage status, to the extent that the ratio of embryos cleaved over the 4-cell stage was greater in younger cows. The mtDNA number did not differ among the cleaved status of embryos. In the next experiment, oocytes collected from each donor cow were divided into 2 groups containing 10 oocytes each, in order to compare the mtDNA number of mature oocytes and early developmental stage embryos within individuals. Upon comparing the mtDNA number between oocytes at the M2 stage and early developmental stage 48 h post insemination, mtDNA number was found to decrease in most cows, but was found to increase in some cows. In conclusion, age affects the cleaving ability of oocytes, and very old cows (> 180 months) tend to have lower mtDNA numbers in their oocytes. The change in mtDNA number during early development varied among individual cows, although overall, it showed a tendency to decrease.
Developmental competence and quality of in vitro produced embryos has been demonstrated to be lower than in vivo derived embryos. This study aimed specifically to determine the effects of in vitro culture of feline embryos using various culture densities on developmental competence and expression of stress- and apoptotic-related genes in terms of heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) and apoptotic-related (BAX and BCL-2) gene expressions. In experiment 1, we characterized the inducible form of a feline-specific HSP70 mRNA sequence, as it has not been previously reported. The primers for feline HSP70 mRNA were synthesized and tested on heat-treated cat fibroblasts. In experiment 2, feline embryos were cultured at different culture densities (embryo:culture volume; 1:1.25, 1:5 and 1:20). The developmental competence was determined along with HSP70, BAX and BCL-2 transcript abundances using quantitative RT-PCR. In vivo derived embryos were used as a control group. A partial cat HSP70 mRNA sequence (190 bp) was characterized and exhibited high nucleotide identity (93 to 96%) with other species. Cleaved embryos cultured at high density (1:1.25) developed to blastocysts at a lower rate than those generated from lower densities. Irrespective of the culture densities used, in vitro cultured blastocysts showed increased levels of HSP70 and BAX transcripts compared with in vivo counterparts. Blastocysts derived from the highest culture density (1:1.25) showed higher levels of upregulation of HSP70 and BAX transcripts than those cultured at lower culture densities (1:5 and 1:20). In conclusion, increased levels of pro-apoptotic (BAX) and stress-response (HSP70) transcripts correlated with developmental incompetence of embryos cultured at high embryonic density, indicating that stress accumulated during in vitro embryo culture affected the fate for embryo development and quality.
Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) function to regulate the balance of self-renewal and differentiation of male gametes. SSCs have been successfully isolated and cultured in vitro in several species, but not in feline. Therefore, in this study, we aimed to culture and characterize feline SSCs. In experiment 1, testes (n=5) from different pubertal domestic cats were cryosectioned and fluorescently immunolabeled to examine the expression of SSC (GFRα-1), differentiated spermatogonium (c-kit) and germ cell (DDX-4) markers. In experiments 2 and 3, testicular cells were digested and subsequently cultured in vitro. The resultant presumptive SSC colonies were then collected for SSC identification (experiment 2), or further cultured in vitro on feeder cells (experiment 3). Morphology, gene expression and immunofluorescence were used to identify the SSCs. Experiment 1 demonstrated that varying types of spermatogenic cells existed and expressed different germ cell/SSC markers. A rare population of putative SSCs located at the basement membrane of the seminiferous tubules was specifically identified by co-expression of GFRα-1 and DDX-4. Following enzymatic digestion, grape-like colonies formed by 13-15 days of culture. These colonies expressed GFRA1 and ZBTB16, but did not express KIT. Although we successfully isolated and cultured feline SSCs in vitro, the SSCs could only be maintained for 57 days. In conclusion, this study demonstrates, for the first time, that putative SSCs from testes of pubertal domestic cats can be isolated and cultured in vitro. These cells exhibited SSC morphology and expressed SSC-specific genes. However, long-term culture of these putative SSCs was compromised.
We examined effects of treatment with valproic acid (0, 0.2, 1 or 2 mM, VPA), an inhibitor of class I and IIa histone deacetylases (HDACs), of mouse somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) embryos for 24 h from 48 h (4-cell stage), 24 h (2-cell stage) or immediately after oocyte activation on blastocyst formation rates and qualities of the resultant blastocysts. Blastocyst formation rates (33.4–37.0%) were not improved by VPA treatments compared with the untreated control (35.1–36.4%). However, immunofluorescence staining revealed that Oct4 expression levels, evaluated from percentages of embryos expressing Oct4 strongly and having more than 10 Oct4-positive cells, in blastocysts from SCNT embryos treated with 1 mM VPA for 24 h from the 4-cell stage (VPA-4C) were highest among all the groups and that the proportion of cells with a normal nuclear distribution of histone H3 trimethylated at lysine 27 (H3K27me3), a marker of the state of X-chromosome inactivation, significantly increased in the VPA-4C group (36.6%) compared with the control group (12.4%, P<0.05). Treatments with scriptaid and sodium butyrate, inhibitors of class I and IIa/b HDACs, for 24 h from the 4-cell stage also had beneficial effects on SCNT blastocysts. These findings indicate that treatment with 1 mM VPA from the 4-cell stage improves the Oct4 expression and nuclear distribution of H3K27me3 in mouse SCNT blastocysts and suggest that the inhibition of class I and IIa HDACs from the 4-cell stage plays an important role in these effects.
Fish oocytes have not been cryopreserved successfully, probably because it is difficult to prevent intracellular ice from forming. Previously, we have shown in medaka that immature oocytes are more suitable for cryopreservation than mature oocytes or embryos, in terms of permeability. We have also shown in immature medaka oocytes that the exogenous expression of aquaporin 3 (AQP3), a water/cryoprotectant channel, promotes the movement of water and cryoprotectants through the plasma membrane. In the present study, we attempted to cryopreserve immature medaka oocytes expressing AQP3. We first examined effects of hypertonic stress and the chemical toxicity of cryoprotectants on the survival of the AQP3-expressing oocytes. Exposure to hypertonic solutions containing sucrose decreased the survival of oocytes, but the expression of AQP3 did not affect sensitivity to hypertonic stress. Also, AQP3 expression did not markedly increase sensitivity to the toxicity of cryoprotectants. Of the four cryoprotectants tested, propylene glycol was the least toxic. Using a propylene glycol-based solution, therefore, we tried to cryopreserve immature oocytes by vitrification. During cooling with liquid nitrogen, all intact oocytes became opaque, but many AQP3-expressing oocytes remained transparent. This indicates that the expression of AQP3 is effective in preventing intracellular ice from forming during cooling. During warming, however, all the AQP3-expressing oocytes became opaque, indicating that intracellular ice formed. Therefore, the dehydration and permeation by propylene glycol were still insufficient. Further studies are necessary to realize the cryopreservation of fish oocytes.
This study was undertaken to determine whether a single i.m. injection of FSH dissolved in 10 ml of 30% (wt/vol) polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP; MW=40,000) to form FSHp would induce follicular growth in Thai native heifers and to determine its optimal dose. In Group 1, heifers (n=4) were given multiple i.m. injections of FSHp every 12 h for 3 days at decreasing doses, for a total of 100 mg (control). In Groups 2, 3 and 4, heifers (n=4 in each group) were given single i.m. injections of FSHp at 50, 100 and 150 mg. All heifers received a single injection of 750 μg PGF2α 48 h after the initiation of exogenous FSH treatment. Ovaries of treated heifers were examined by transrectal ultrasonography every day until they showed estrus. Group 3 showed significantly higher numbers of ovulation follicles, significantly higher growth rates of follicles per day and significantly larger diameters of follicles and corpora lutea than groups 1 and 2 but not Group 4 (P<0.05). Group 4 showed significantly higher numbers of large follicles (≥5 mm in diameter), unovulated follicles and ovulations, a significantly higher growth rate of follicles per day, and significantly larger diameters of follicles and corpora lutea (P<0.05) than those of the other groups. This indicates a state of overstimulation of ovaries in this group. Besides, the plasma levels of FSH in Group 4 were significantly higher (P<0.05) than in the other group and were maintained in the range of 2.2–0.7 ng/ml over a period of 6 to 66 h after the FSHp injection. Meanwhile, the plasma levels of P4 and E2 did not differ in any of the groups in the period of 0 to 96 h during the superstimulation program. In conclusion, it was demonstrated that a single i.m. injection of 100 mg FSHp was the most effective dose for superstimulation of follicular growth in Thai native heifers under the experimental conditions in this study.