Poor reproductive efficiency is a worldwide problem that has affected the dairy industry during the last several decades. In an attempt to explain the changes in reproductive physiology caused by high milk production, a model of elevated steroid metabolism in lactating dairy cows has been proposed. A slow increase in levels and low peak levels of estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) characterize endocrine changes in high producing cows. Similar changes have been reported in the repeat breeder cows. The abnormal changes in E2 and P4 concentrations of these cows may cause an improper uterine environment due to disturbed expression of growth factors and cytokines in the endometrium. This review focuses on the alteration in epidermal growth factor (EGF) profile in the endometrium during the estrous cycle. The normal cow has two peaks of EGF concentrations on days 2–4 and 13–14. Low concentrations of EGF on these days distinguished both high-producing and repeat breeder cows from normal cows. Alteration of the EGF profile could be found in 70 and 40% of the repeat breeder and high-producing cows, respectively. Treatment with a high dose of estradiol benzoate and an intravaginal progesterone-releasing device restored the normal EGF profile in about 70% of the affected cows. The cows having a normal EGF profile after treatment showed a higher pregnancy rate than the cows with the altered profile. Further studies to understand the etiology of the alteration in the EGF profile are needed to develop another treatment option and preventive management for this problem.
It is not until accomplishment of a variety of molecular changes during the transit through the female reproductive tract that mammalian spermatozoa are capable of exhibiting highly activated motility with asymmetric whiplash beating of the flagella (hyperactivation) and undergoing acrosomal exocytosis in the head (acrosome reaction). These molecular changes of the spermatozoa are collectively termed capacitation and promoted by bicarbonate, calcium and cholesterol acceptors. Such capacitation-promoting factors can stimulate intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) signal transduction in the spermatozoa. Meanwhile, hyperactivation and the acrosome reaction are essential to sperm fertilization with oocytes and are apparently triggered by a sufficient increase of intracellular Ca2+ in the sperm flagellum and head, respectively. Thus, it is necessary to investigate the relationship between cAMP signal transduction and calcium signaling cascades in the spermatozoa for the purpose of understanding the molecular basis of capacitation. In this review, I cover updated insights regarding intracellular cAMP signal transduction, the acrosome reaction and flagellar motility in mammalian spermatozoa and then account for possible roles of intracellular cAMP signal transduction in the capacitation and subsequent hyperactivation of mouse and boar spermatozoa.
Meiosis is a key step for sexual reproduction in which chromosome number is halved by two successive meiotic divisions after a single round of DNA replication. In the first meiotic division (meiosis I), homologous chromosomes pair, synapse, and recombine with their partners in prophase I. As a result, homologous chromosomes are physically connected until metaphase I and then segregated from each other at the onset of anaphase I. In the subsequent second meiotic division (meiosis II), sister chromatids are segregated. Chromosomal abnormality arising during meiosis is one of the major causes of birth defects and congenital disorders in mammals including human and domestic animals. Hence understanding of the mechanism underlying these unique chromosome behavior in meiosis is of great importance. This review focuses on the roles of cohesin and condensin, and their regulation in chromosome dynamics during mammalian meiosis.
Worldwide, only a few “fatty” pig breeds exist with different and/or regional utilization. Using the Hungarian Mangalica, which almost went extinct in Europe and the Lao Moo Lat pig, which still has a large population in South-East Asia as exemples, we wanted to demonstrate that indigenous (fatty) pig breeds may represent both national value and tremendous economic potential. Since these less prolific and less productive breeds cannot contribute to mass production, new market roles and methods should be established for them in the premium segment of pork trading. Thus their preservation and propagation needs the comprehensive collaboration of commercial, governmental actors and researchers. Briefly summarizing the history, we report the current results of reproductive physiology research. The commercial renaissance of Mangalica pigs is indebted to the enthusiastic efforts of basic scientists, pig breeding experts and dedicated Mangalica producers. Scientific achievements were applied to practical breeding and production of delicious pork and processed products, which ultimately made the economic success in the Mangalica sector possible. Both, research on and utilization of endangered (pig) breeds maintain not only breed diversities, but also may improve the livelihood of farmers worldwide.
The efficiency of cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) has remained low. In most cloned embryos, epigenetic reprogramming is incomplete, and usually the genome is hypermethylated. The DNA methylation inhibitor 5-aza-2’-deoxycytidine (5-aza-dC) could improve the developmental competence of cow, pig, cat and human SCNT embryos in previous studies. However, the parameters of 5-aza-dC treatment among species are different, and whether 5-aza-dC could enhance the developmental competence of porcine cloned embryos has still not been well studied. Therefore, in this study, we treated porcine fetal fibroblasts (PFF) that then were used as donor nuclei for nuclear transfer or fibroblast-derived reconstructed embryos with 5-aza-dC, and the concentration- and time-dependent effects of 5-aza-dC on porcine cloned embryos were investigated by assessing pseudo-pronucleus formation, developmental potential and pluripotent gene expression of these reconstructed embryos. Our results showed that 5-aza-dC significantly reduced the DNA methylation level in PFF (0 nM vs. 10 nM vs. 25 nM vs. 50 nM, 58.70% vs. 37.37% vs. 45.43% vs. 39.53%, P<0.05), but did not improve the blastocyst rate of cloned embryos derived from these cells. Treating cloned embryos with 25 nM 5-aza-dC for 24 h significantly enhanced the blastocyst rate compared with that of the untreated group. Furthermore, treating cloned embryos, but not donor cells, significantly promoted pseudo-pronucleus formation at 4 h post activation (51% for cloned embryos treated, 34% for donor cells treated and 36% for control, respectively, P<0.05) and enhanced the expression levels of pluripotent genes (Oct4, Nanog and Sox2) up to those of in vitro fertilized embryos during embryo development. In conclusion, treating cloned embryos, but not donor cells, with 5-aza-dC enhanced the developmental competence of porcine cloned embryos by promotion of pseudo-pronucleus formation and improvement of pluripotent gene expression.
One of the factors that impairs in vitro produced porcine embryos is the oxidative stress that is mainly caused by the imbalance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and antioxidants activity, especially that of glutathione (GSH). Here, we examined the effect of 7,8-dihydroxyflavone (7,8-DHF), a kind of flavonoid antioxidant, on porcine oocyte maturation and its developmental competence. Porcine oocytes were cultured in media supplemented with 0, 1, 5 and 10 μM 7,8-DHF during both in vitro maturation (IVM) and in vitro culture (IVC) after parthenogenetic activation. Maturation of oocytes was evaluated based on first polar body (PB) extrusion and intracellular GSH level, and developmental competence was assessed through observing cleavage and blastocyst formation. In each step, the levels of intracellular GSH and ROS were assessed by fluorescence intensity, and the apoptosis-related gene expression was examined using semiquantitative RT-PCR. The group treated with 1 μM 7,8-DHF during IVM and IVC showed increased cytoplasmic maturation and reached the blastocysts stage (36.1%) at a higher rate than the other groups (24.7, 16.0 and 10.3% for 0, 5 and 10 μM, P<0.05). In that group, the intracellular GSH level was significantly increased while ROS generation was significantly decreased after IVM and IVC (P<0.05). Moreover, it showed high expression of an anti-apoptotic gene (BCL2L1) and low expression of a pro-apoptotic gene (BAK1) (P<0.05). In conclusion, treatment with 1 μM 7,8-DHF during IVM and IVC showed an anti-apoptotic effect by increasing intracellular GSH synthesis and scavenging ROS and therefore improved the developmental competence of porcine embryos.
Recently we demonstrated an ectopic expression of the human herpesvirus 1 thymidine kinase (HHV1-TK) gene by functioning of an intrinsic endogenous promoter in the transgenic rat (TG-rat), suggesting that HHV1 infection in humans induces expression of the TK gene with the ectopic promoter in the testis and results in accumulation of HHV1-TK protein, triggering male infertility similar to that in the TG-rat. Hence, in this study, we started to investigate a relationship between infection of herpesvirus and human male infertility. Semen was donated by Chinese male infertile patients (153 men, aged 21–49 years) with informed consent, followed by DNA preparation and analysis by PCR and DNA sequencing. Semen volume, sperm number and density, and sperm motility were examined. DNAs of HHV1, HHV4, HHV5 and HHV6 were confirmed by PCR, electrophoresis and DNA sequencing. Finally, virus DNA was identified in 59 patients (39%). The number of carriers was 39 (25%) for HHV1, 6 (4%) for HHV4, 33 (22%) for HHV5 and 3 (2%) for HHV6, respectively. Moreover, double-infection was found in 22 out of 59 specimens (37%), most of which were double-infection of HHV1 and HHV5 (15 out of 22 carriers). Though slight severity was present in some of the carriers, the relationship between virus infection and sperm impairment was not conclusive. Accordingly, it is essential to examine whether the viral HHV1-TK gene is expressed in the testis of the infertile human HHV carrier.
Neurokinin B (NKB), encoded by TAC3, is thought to be an important accelerator of pulsatile gonadotropin-releasing hormone release. This study aimed to clarify the transcriptional regulatory mechanism of goat TAC3. First, we determined the full-length mRNA sequence of goat TAC3 from the hypothalamus to be 820 b, including a 381 b coding region, with the putative transcription start site located 143-b upstream of the start codon. The deduced amino acid sequence of NKB, which is produced from preproNKB, was completely conserved among goat, cattle, and human. Next, we cloned 5’-upstream region of goat TAC3 up to 3400 b from the translation initiation site, and this region was highly homologous with cattle TAC3 (89%). We used this goat TAC3 5’-upstream region to perform luciferase assays. We created a luciferase reporter vector containing DNA constructs from –2706, –1837, –834, –335, or –197 to +166 bp (the putative transcription start site was designated as +1) of goat TAC3 and these were transiently transfected into mouse hypothalamus-derived N7 cells and human neuroblastoma-derived SK-N-AS cells. The luciferase activity gradually increased with the deletion of the 5’-upstream region, suggesting that the transcriptional suppressive region is located between –2706 and –336 bp and that the core promoter exists downstream of –197 bp. Estradiol treatment did not lead to significant suppression of luciferase activity of any constructs, suggesting the existence of other factor(s) that regulate goat TAC3 transcription.
This study aimed to investigate the role of epithelial cells in regulating innate immunity in bovine oviduct epithelial cell (BOEC) culture. We studied the effect of Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and its interaction with ovarian steroids, estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4), and luteinizing hormone (LH) at concentrations observed during the preovulatory period on immune responses in BOEC culture. Immunohistochemistry of oviduct tissue showed intensive expression of Toll-like receptor-4 (TLR-4) and TLR-2 in epithelial cells. A dose of 10 ng/ml LPS stimulated TLR-4, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), nuclear factor kappa B inhibitor A (NFKBIA), interleukin 1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) expression, indicating an early pro-inflammatory response. A dose of 100 ng/ml LPS did not induce expression of these genes but stimulated TLR-2, IL-10,IL-4 and microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1 (mPGES-1) expression and PGE2 secretion, indicating an anti-inflammatory response. Ovarian steroids and LH completely block LPS (10 ng/ml)-induced TLR-4, IL-1β and TNF-α expression as well as LPS (100 ng/ml)-induced TLR-2 expression. Taken together, this study suggests the existence of an early signaling system to respond to infection in the BOEC. In addition, ovarian steroids and LH may play a critical role in inducing homeostasis and in controlling hyperactive pro-inflammatory responses detrimental to epithelial cells, sperm and the embryo.
Puberty in mammals is timed by an increase in gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion. Previous studies have shown involvement of the two neuropeptides, kisspeptin and neurokinin B (NKB), in controlling puberty onset. Little is known about the role of the other key neuropeptide, dynorphin, in controlling puberty onset, although these three neuropeptides colocalize in the arcuate kisspeptin neurons. The arcuate kisspeptin neuron, which is also referred to as the KNDy neuron, has recently been considered to play a role as an intrinsic source of the GnRH pulse generator. The present study aimed to determine if attenuation of inhibitory dynorphin-kappa-opioid receptor (KOR) signaling triggers the initiation of puberty in normal developing female rats. The present study also determined if stimulatory NKB-neurokinin 3 receptor (NK3R) signaling advances puberty onset. Female Wistar-Imamichi rats were weaned and intraperitoneally implanted with osmotic minipumps filled with nor-binaltorphimine (nor-BNI), a KOR antagonist, or senktide, a NK3R agonist, at 20 days of age. Fourteen days of intraperitoneal infusion of nor-BNI or senktide advanced puberty onset, manifested as vaginal opening and the first vaginal estrus in female rats. Frequent blood sampling showed that nor-BNI significantly increased luteinizing hormone (LH) pulse frequency at 29 days of age compared with vehicle-treated controls. Senktide tended to increase this frequency, but its effect was not statistically significant. The present results suggest that the inhibitory input of dynorphin-KOR signaling plays a role in the prepubertal restraint of GnRH/LH secretion in normal developing female rats and that attenuation of dynorphin-KOR signaling and increase in NKB-NK3R signaling trigger the onset of puberty in female rats.
Exposure to di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) has been reported to induce spermatogenic disturbance through oxidant stress and affect the immune system as an adjuvant. However, the effect of DEHP on the testicular immune microenvironment has not yet been investigated. In the present study, we examined the testicular immune microenvironment after exposure to doses of DEHP, previously identified as no-observed-adverse-effect levels. Adult male mice were administered food containing 0%, 0.01% or 0.1% DEHP and then testes were analyzed. The results showed that a slight but significant spermatogenic disturbance appeared in the 0.1% DEHP group but not in the 0.01% DEHP group at 8 weeks. It was also demonstrated that lymphocytes and F4/80- and MHC class II- positive cells were significantly increased with the elevation of IL-10 and IFN-γ mRNA expressions in the testes of not only the 0.1% DEHP group but also the 0.01% DEHP group at 8 weeks. Histochemical analyses involving horseradish peroxidase (HRP) as a tracer showed that a little blood-borne HRP had infiltrated into the lumen of a few seminiferous tubules beyond the blood-testis-barrier in both the 0.1% and 0.01% DEHP groups at 8 weeks. This indicates that a dose of DEHP that has little effects on spermatogenesis can change the testicular immune microenvironment with functional damage of the blood-testis barrier.
Artificial insemination (AI) can help to avoid inbreeding and genetic degeneration for sustaining genetically healthy populations of endangered species in captivity. Collection of a sufficient quantity of viable sperm is an essential first step in the AI process. In the present study, we examined the effects of frequent electroejaculation on semen characteristics in a Siberian tiger. We collected semen in all 17 trials during 6 breeding seasons (6 years). The mean number of sperm and the percentage of motile sperm were 294.3 ± 250.2×106/ejaculate and 82.4 ± 11.4%, respectively. The number of motile sperm tended to increase during frequent electroejaculation in the same breeding season. Semen collection by electroejaculation can be performed effectively up to the fourth sequential ejaculate, which contained the most sperm in the study. In conclusion, frequent collection of sperm by electroejaculation from tigers may be effective for collection of a large number of motile sperm.
Effects of supporting materials during vitrification procedure on the morphologies of preantral follicles of pig ovaries were assessed. Ovarian cortical sections of prepubertal pigs were randomly allocated to 5 groups. The sections were vitrified ultrarapidly with 5 different vitrification devices. The sections were put on 4 fine needles (Cryosupport), on a thin copper plate, or on a carbon graphite sheet or were sandwiched between copper plates or between carbon graphite sheets before cooling. The cooling and warming rates with the graphite sheets were significantly higher than those with the copper plates (P<0.05). A total of 3,064 follicles were analyzed following HE staining after vitrification with 5 different devices. The morphologies follicles vitrified on the Cryosupport or on the graphite sheet were well preserved compared with those vitrified on the copper plate or between copper plates (P<0.01). The morphologies of follicles vitrified between copper plates were mostly damaged (P<0.05). Taken together, good thermally conducting material supports follicle morphologies of ovaries cryopreserved with ultrarapid vitrification.
During oocyte growth, the morphology of the nucleolus changes into a compact and homogenous structure. The compact nucleoli in full-grown oocytes are not stained by aceto-orcein staining or immunofluorescence staining. In this study, we developed a hematoxylin staining method for pig oocytes in whole-mount preparations to visualize the nucleoli. Nucleoli of growing and full-grown oocytes were stained blue with hematoxylin. Using this staining method, the changes in the oocyte nucleolus during maturation were examined. The nucleolar diameter gradually decreased in maturing oocytes (10.7 ± 0.1 μm to 9.0 ± 0.7 μm, P<0.05) before germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD). The results suggest that the nucleolar volume of oocytes decreases before GVBD.
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