T cells are the dominant lymphocytes in the endometrium and are considered to play a crucial role in implantation and in the maintenance of gestation through cytokine production and immune regulation. The mechanisms underlying immunoregulation at the feto-maternal interface are still obscure for this complex system. Understanding the role of T cells is a key factor in understanding the endometrial immune system. In this study, the distribution of endometrial CD3+ T cells in bovines was examined by immunohistochemical analysis. The estrous cycle and gestation was divided into 4 stages, and the number of CD3+-positive T cells was counted in each stage. CD3+ cells were found in the endometrium in significant numbers throughout the estrous cycle and were mostly located in the subepithelial area. The number of CD3+ cells significantly increased in the early and mid-luteal phases but decreased after implantation with the progression of gestation. No T cells were found in the placentome or specifically in the tissues near the fetus, including the trophoblastic area. In addition, very few T cells were found in stromal regions close to the myometrium of the endometrium. These findings suggest that downregulation of bovine endometrial CD3+ T-cell functions is closely related to the successful maintenance of gestation in a spatiotemporal manner.
Transforming growth factor (TGF) β and its receptors are expressed at the conceptus-maternal interface during early pregnancy in the pig. The present studies were conducted to examine: (1) the effect of conceptus products on TGFβ1 mRNA expression and protein concentration in the porcine endometrium using in vivo and in vitro models, and (2) the effect of TGFβ1 on proliferation of porcine trophoblast cells in vitro. During in vivo experiments, gilts with one surgically detached uterine horn were slaughtered on days 11 or 14 of the estrous cycle and pregnancy. For in vitro studies, endometrial explants and luminal epithelial (LE) cells co-cultured with stromal (ST) cells were treated with conceptus-exposed medium (CEM). Moreover, porcine trophoblast cells were treated with TGFβ1, and the number of viable cells was measured. On day 11, the presence of conceptuses had no effect on TGFβ1 mRNA expression, but decreased the TGFβ1 protein concentration in the connected uterine horn compared with the detached uterine horn. In contrast to day 11, on day 14 after estrus, TGFβ1 mRNA expression and protein content in the endometrium collected from the gravid uterine horn were greater when compared with the contralateral uterine horn. The treatment of endometrial slices with CEM resulted in greater TGFβ1 mRNA expression and protein secretion. LE cells responded to CEM with an increased TGFβ1 mRNA level. Moreover, TGFβ1 stimulated the proliferation of day 14 trophoblast cells. In summary, porcine conceptuses may regulate TGFβ1 synthesis in the endometrium at the time of implantation. TGFβ1, in turn, may promote conceptus development by increasing the proliferation of trophoblast cells.
This study was conducted to clarify the feasibility of newly developed vitrification techniques for porcine embryos using the micro volume air cooling (MVAC) method without direct contact with liquid nitrogen (LN2). Expanded blastocysts were vitrified in a solution containing 6 M ethylene glycol, 0.6 M trehalose and 2% (wt/vol) polyethylene glycol in 10% HEPES-buffered PZM-5. The blastocysts were collected from gilts and vitrified using the new device (MVAC) or a Cryotop (CT). Blastocysts were stored in LN2 for at least 1 month. After warming, cryoprotective agents were removed using a single step. Survival of the embryos was assessed by in vitro culture (Experiment 1) and by embryo transfer to recipients (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, the embryos vitrified by the MVAC or CT and fresh embryos without vitrification (Control) were used. The survival rates of embryos in the MVAC, CT and Control groups were 88.9% (32/36), 91.7% (33/36) and 100% (34/34), respectively, after 48 h culture, and the hatching rates of embryos after 48 h incubation were 69.4% (25/36), 63.9% (23/36) and 94.1% (32/34), respectively. In Experiment 2, 64 vitrified embryos were transferred to 5 recipient gilts, and 8 healthy piglets were produced from 3 recipients in the MVAC group. Similarly, 66 vitrified embryos were transferred to 5 recipient gilts, and 9 healthy piglets were produced from 2 recipients in the CT group. These results indicated that porcine expanded blastocysts can be cryopreserved using the MVAC method without potential pathogen contamination from LN2.
The blood testis-barrier (BTB) is essential for maintaining homeostasis in the seminiferous epithelium. Although many studies have reported that vitamin A (VA) is required for the maintenance of spermatogenesis, the relationships between the BTB, spermatogenesis and VA have not been elucidated. In this study, we analyzed BTB assembly and spermatogenesis in the testes of mice fed the VA-deficient (VAD) diet from the prepubertal period to adulthood. During the prepubertal period, no changes were observed in the initiation and progression of the first spermatogenic wave in mice fed the VAD diet. However, the numbers of preleptotene/leptotene spermatocytes derived from the second spermatogenic wave onwards were decreased, and initial BTB formation was also delayed, as evidenced by the decreased expression of mRNAs encoding BTB components and VA signaling molecules. From 60 days postpartum, mice fed the VAD diet exhibited apoptosis of germ cells, arrest of meiosis, disruption of the BTB, and dramatically decreased testis size. Furthermore, vacuolization and calcification were observed in the seminiferous epithelium of adult mice fed the VAD diet. Re-initiation of spermatogenesis by VA replenishment in adult mice fed the VAD diet rescued BTB assembly after when the second spermatogenic wave initiated from the arrested spermatogonia reached the preleptotene/leptotene spermatocytes. These results suggested that BTB integrity was regulated by VA metabolism with meiotic progression and that the impermeable BTB was required for persistent spermatogenesis rather than meiotic initiation. In conclusion, consumption of the VAD diet led to critical defects in spermatogenesis progression and altered the dynamics of BTB assembly.
To preserve Jeju black cattle (JBC; endangered native Korean cattle), a pair of cattle, namely a post-death cloned JBC bull and cow, were produced by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) in a previous study. In the present study, we examined the in vitro fertilization and reproductive potentials of these post-death cloned animals. Sperm motility, in vitro fertilization and developmental capacity were examined in a post-death cloned bull (Heuk Oll Dolee) and an extinct nuclear donor bull (BK94-13). We assessed reproductive ability in another post-death cloned cow (Heuk Woo Sunee) using cloned sperm for artificial insemination (AI). There were no differences in sperm motility or developmental potential of in vitro fertilized embryos between the post-death cloned bull and its extinct nuclear donor bull; however, the embryo development ratio was slightly higher in the cloned sperm group than in the nuclear donor sperm group. After one attempt at AI, the post-death cloned JBC cow became pregnant, and gestation proceeded normally until day 287. From this post-death cloned sire and dam, a JBC male calf (Heuk Woo Dolee) was delivered naturally (weight, 25 kg). The genetic paternity/maternity of the cloned JBC bull and cow with regard to their offspring was confirmed using International Society for Animal Genetics standard microsatellite markers. Presently, Heuk Woo Dolee is 5 months of age and growing normally. In addition, there were no significant differences in blood chemistry among the post-death cloned JBC bull, the cow, their offspring and cattle bred by AI. This is the first report showing that a pair of cattle, namely, a post-death cloned JBC bull and cow, had normal fertility. Therefore, SCNT can be used effectively to increase the population of endangered JBC.
This study compared the efficiency of a five-day or standard (nine-day) progesterone-based regimen combined with equine chorionic gonadotrophin (eCG) in a fixed-time AI (FTAI) protocol for dairy cows. The data examined were derived from 3577 inseminations conducted in three dairy herds. Animals with no estrus signs detected over 21 days were randomly assigned to a PRID-9 or PRID-5 group. Cows in each group received a progesterone intravaginal device (PRID) for 9 or 5 days, respectively, PGF2α and eCG on PRID removal, and GnRH 48 h later. Fixed-time AI was performed 12 h after the GnRH dose. Cows artificially inseminated following spontaneous estrus during the study period were considered as controls. Based on the odds ratio, the likelihoods of animals in PRID-9 in the warm (conception rate [CR] of 22.3%) and cool (32% CR) periods, and control animals in the warm period (26.6% CR) becoming pregnant were reduced (by factors of 0.6, 0.3 and 0.4, respectively) compared with the control animals in the cool period (CR of 43.7%). The risk of a twin pregnancy was higher (51.4%) for cystic PRID-9 cows (by a factor of 3.6) and lower (9.9%) for cyclic PRID-5 animals (by a factor of 0.4) compared with the PRID-9 cyclic cows. These findings indicate that the proposed protocol achieves similar results during the cool or warm season to those obtained when AI is conducted at spontaneous estrus during the cool season. In addition, PRID-5 reduced twin pregnancy compared with PRID-9.
Mitochondria are reported to be critical in in vitro maturation of oocytes and subsequent embryo development after fertilization, but their contribution for fertilization has not been investigated in detail. In the present study, we investigate the contribution of mitochondria to fertilization using reconstructed porcine oocytes by fusion of ooplasmic fragments produced by serial centrifugations (centri-fusion). Firstly, we evaluated the characteristics of ooplasmic fragments. Three types of fragments were obtained by centrifugation of porcine oocytes matured in vitro for 46 h: brownish (B), transparent (T) and large (L) fragments containing both B and T parts in a fragment. The production efficiencies of these types of fragments were 71.7, 91.0 and 17.8 fragments/100 oocytes, respectively. In experiments, L fragments were excluded because they contained both brownish and transparent components that were apparently intermediate between B and T fragments. Observations by confocal microscopy after staining with MitoTracker Red CMXRos® and transmission electron microscopy revealed highly condensed active mitochondria in B fragments in contrast to T fragments that contained only sparse organelles. We reconstructed oocytes by fusion of a karyoplast and two cytoplasts from B and T fragments (B and T oocytes, respectively). The B oocytes showed higher sperm penetration (95.8%) and male pronuclear formation rates (94.2%) by in vitro fertilization than T oocytes (66.7% and 50.0%, respectively). These results suggest that the active mitochondria in oocytes may be related to their ability for fertilization.
A number of germ cell-specific transcription factors essential for ovarian formation and folliculogenesis have been identified and studied. However, the role of these factors during early embryonic development has been poorly explored. In the present study, we investigated the role of SEBOX, a maternal homeobox transcription factor, during early embryonic development in porcine parthenotes. mRNA for SEBOX is preferentially expressed in oocytes, and expression persists until embryonic genome activation (EGA). Knockdown of SEBOX by siRNA disrupted early embryonic development, but not oocyte maturation. Many maternal genes essential for early embryonic development were upregulated in SEBOX-depleted embryos. Moreover, some pluripotency-associated genes, including SOX2 and NANOG, were upregulated when SEBOX was knocked down. Therefore, our data demonstrate that SEBOX is required for early embryonic development in pigs and appears to regulate the degradation of maternal transcripts and the expression of pluripotency genes.
The aim of the present study was to determine if the estradiol-induced luteinizing hormone (LH) surge is influenced by the constant exposure to TAK-683, an investigational metastin/kisspeptin analog, that had been established to depress the pulsatile gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and LH secretion in goats. Ovariectomized goats subcutaneously received TAK-683 (TAK-683 group, n=6) or vehicle (control group, n=6) constantly via subcutaneous implantation of an osmotic pump. Five days after the start of the treatment, estradiol was infused intravenously in both groups to evaluate the effects on the LH surge. Blood samples were collected at 6-min intervals for 4 h prior to the initiation of either the TAK-683 treatment or the estradiol infusion, to determine the profiles of pulsatile LH secretion. They were also collected at 2-h intervals from –4 h to 32 h after the start of estradiol infusion for analysis of LH surges. The frequency and mean concentrations of LH pulses in the TAK-683 group were remarkably suppressed 5 days after the start of TAK-683 treatment compared with those of the control group (P<0.05). On the other hand, a clear LH surge was observed in all animals of both groups. There were no significant differences in the LH concentrations for surge peak and the peak time of the LH surge between the TAK-683 and control groups. These findings suggest that the effects of continuous exposure to kisspeptin or its analog on the mechanism(s) that regulates the pulsatile and surge mode secretion of GnRH/LH are different in goats.
The present experiments were undertaken to examine whether oxytocin cells in the supraoptic nucleus receive synaptic inputs from the contralateral supraoptic nucleus or paraventricular nucleus. Using urethane-anesthetized lactating rats, extracellular action potentials were recorded from single oxytocin or vasopressin cells in the supraoptic nucleus. Electrical stimulation was applied to the contralateral supraoptic nucleus or paraventricular nucleus, and responses of oxytocin or vasopressin cells were analyzed by peri-stimulus time histogram or by change in firing rate of oxytocin or vasopressin cells. Electrical stimulation of the contralateral supraoptic nucleus or paraventricular nucleus did not cause antidromic excitation in oxytocin or vasopressin cells but caused orthodromic responses. Although analysis by peri-stimulus time histogram showed that electrical stimulation of the contralateral supraoptic nucleus or paraventricular nucleus caused orthodromic excitation in both oxytocin and vasopressin cells, the proportion of excited oxytocin cells was greater than that of vasopressin cells. Train stimulation applied to the contralateral supraoptic nucleus or paraventricular nucleus at 10 Hz increased firing rates of oxytocin cells and decreased those of vasopressin cells. The results of the present experiments suggest that oxytocin cells in the supraoptic nucleus receive mainly excitatory synaptic inputs from the contralateral supraoptic nucleus and paraventricular nucleus. Receipt these synaptic inputs to oxytocin cells may contribute to the synchronized activation of oxytocin cells during the milk ejection reflex.
A high incidence (about 70%) of alteration in endometrial epidermal growth factor (EGF) profile, i.e., loss of 2 peaks on days 2–4 and 13–14, has been linked to a reduced fertility in multiparous repeat breeder Holstein cows. However, the EGF profile in Holstein heifers and other breeds (types) of cattle has not been investigated. In study 1, EGF concentrations were determined using endometrial tissues obtained by biopsy on days 3, 7 and 14 from 84 fertile Holstein heifers to obtain a normal range and 53 repeat breeder Holstein heifers to estimate incidence of alterations in the EGF profile. In repeat breeder heifers, EGF concentrations were similar to fertile controls on 3 days and five animals (9.4%) had an altered EGF profile with EGF concentrations below the normal range on days 3 and 14. In study 2, EGF concentrations on day 3 were repeatedly examined from the nulliparous period to the third postpartum period in 28 Holstein (dairy) and 47 Japanese Black (beef) cattle. The effect of parity on EGF concentrations on day 3 was different between Holstein and Japanese Black cattle. In Japanese Black cows, the EGF concentrations were consistently high throughout the study period, while in Holstein cows, the EGF concentrations decreased after the second calving. In conclusion, unlike multiparous repeat breeder Holstein cows, an altered EGF profile may not be a major cause of repeat breeding in Holstein heifers, and the peak EGF concentrations around day 3 may decrease even in fertile populations of multiparous dairy cows, but not in beef cows.
The Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) is a valuable bird as both an experimental animal, for a wide range of scientific disciplines, and an agricultural animal, for the production of eggs and meat. Cryopreservation of PGCs would be a feasible strategy for the conservation of both male and female fertility cells in Japanese quail. However, the effects of freeze-thaw treatment on viability, migration ability and germline transmission ability of quail PGCs still remain unclear. In the present study, male and female PGCs were isolated from the blood of 2-day-old embryos, which were cooled by slow freezing and then cryopreserved at –196 C for 77–185 days, respectively. The average recovery rate of PGCs after freeze-thawing was 47.0%. The viability of PGCs in the frozen group was significantly lower than that of the control group (P<0.05) (85.5% vs. 95.1%). Both fresh and Frozen-thawed PGCs that were intravascularly transplanted into recipient embryos migrated toward and were incorporated into recipient gonads, although the number of PGCs settled in the gonads was 48.5% lower in the frozen group than in the unfrozen control group (P<0.05). Genetic cross analysis revealed that one female and two male recipients produced live progeny derived from the frozen-thawed PGCs. The frequency of donor-derived offspring was slightly lower than that of unfrozen controls, but the difference was not significant (4.0 vs. 14.0%). These results revealed that freeze-thaw treatment causes a decrease in viability, migration ability and germline transmission ability of PGCs in quail.
Kisspeptin is a key molecule that stimulates gonadotropin secretion via release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). In the present study, our aim was to investigate whether kisspeptin has stimulatory effects on follicular development via GnRH/gonadotropin secretion in cows. Japanese Black beef cows were intravenously injected with full-length bovine kisspeptin [Kp-53 (0.2 or 2 nmol/kg)] or vehicle 5 days after they exhibited standing estrus (Day 0). In cows injected with Kp-53 at 2 nmol/kg, the follicular sizes of the first dominant follicles increased on Day 6 and thereafter. Ovulation of the first dominant follicle occurred in 1 out of 4 cows treated with Kp-53 at 2 nmol/kg. Injection of Kp-53 at 2 nmol/kg increased the concentration of plasma luteinizing hormone (LH) but not follicle-stimulating hormone, over a 4-h period following injection in all cows. The present study suggests that administration of full-length kisspeptin causes LH secretion, which is sustained for a few hours, and it is capable of stimulating follicular development and/or ovulation.
This study examined two female offspring of a somatic cell cloned Holstein cow that had reproduction problems and milk production performance issues. The two offspring heifers, which showed healthy appearances and normal reproductive characteristics, calved on two separate occasions. The mean milk yields of the heifers in the first lactation period were 9,037 kg and 7,228 kg. The relative mean milk yields of these cows were 111.2% and 88.9%, respectively, when compared with that of the control group. No particular clinical abnormalities were revealed in milk yields and milk composition rate [e.g., fat, protein and solids-not-fat (SNF)], and reproductive characteristics of the offspring of the somatic cell cloned Holstein cow suggested that the cloned offspring had normal milk production.
Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is a useful technique for creating pig strains that model human diseases. However, production of numerous cloned disease model pigs by SCNT for large-scale experiments is impractical due to its complexity and inefficiency. In the present study, we aimed to establish an efficient procedure for proliferating the diabetes model pig carrying the mutant human hepatocyte nuclear factor-1α gene. A founder diabetes transgenic cloned pig was generated by SCNT and treated with insulin to allow for normal growth to maturity, at which point epididymal sperm could be collected for cryopreservation. In vitro fertilization and intrafallopian insemination using the cryopreserved epididymal sperm resulted in diabetes model transgenic offspring. These results suggest that artificial reproductive technology using cryopreserved epididymal sperm could be a practical option for proliferation of genetically modified disease model pigs.