Embryos obtained via superovulation are necessary for mammalian artificial reproduction, and viability is a key determinant of success. Nonfreezing storage at 4 C is possible, but currently used storage solutions can maintain embryo viability for only 24–48 h. Here we found that 10 mg/ml antifreeze protein (AFP) dissolved in culture medium 199 with 20% (v/v) fetal bovine serum and 25 mM HEPES could keep bovine embryos alive for 10 days at 4 C. We used a recombinant AFP isolated from the notched-fin eelpout (Zoarces elongatus Kner). Photomicroscopy indicated that the AFP–embryo interaction was enhanced at 37 C. Embryos pre-warmed with the AFP solution at 37 C for 60 min maintained high viability, whereas those that were not pre-warmed could live no longer than 7 days. Thus, short-term storage of bovine embryos was achieved by a combination of AFP-containing medium and controlled pre-warming.
The distal region of mouse chromosome 12 harbors the Dlk1–Dio3 domain, is essential for normal development and encodes maternally expressed noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), including Gtl2 as well as paternally expressed proteins.Gtl2 works as a tumor suppressor in several types of human cancer cell lines; however, whether this reflects its function in vivo is unknown. Deleting Gtl2 from the maternal allele (Gtl2(–/+)) results in loss of expression of Gtl2 and decreased expression of downstream ncRNAs, including many miRNAs. To determine the role of ncRNAs in tumorigenesis, we induced teratomas by engrafting E6.5 embryos (wildtype or Gtl2(–/+)) under the kidney capsule of scid mice. Some teratomas derived from the Gtl2(–/+) embryos exhibited hypertrophic growth, suggesting that ncRNAs, including Gtl2, may act as tumor suppressors in vivo. Microarray analysis of miRNAs expressed by Gtl2(–/+) teratomas revealed decreased expression of 28 miRNAs encoded by the Dlk1–Dio3 domain, low expression of embryonic stem cell-specific miRNAs and dysregulation of miRNAs involved in tumorigenesis. This study suggests that downregulation of ncRNAs in the Dlk1-Dio3 domain leads to enhanced teratoma growth and repression of stem cell markers.
Quality evaluation of pluripotent stem cells using appropriate animal models needs to be improved for human regenerative medicine. Previously, we demonstrated that although the in vitro neural differentiating capacity of rabbit induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be mitigated by improving their baseline level of pluripotency, i.e., by converting them into the so-called “naïve-like” state, the effect after such conversion of rabbit embryonic stem cells (ESCs) remains to be elucidated. Here we found that naïve-like conversion enhanced the differences in innate in vitro differentiation capacity between ESCs and iPSCs. Naïve-like rabbit ESCs exhibited several features indicating pluripotency, including the capacity for teratoma formation. They differentiated into mature oligodendrocytes much more effectively (3.3–7.2 times) than naïve-like iPSCs. This suggests an inherent variation in differentiation potential in vitro among PSC lines. When naïve-like ESCs were injected into preimplantation rabbit embryos, although they contributed efficiently to forming the inner cell mass of blastocysts, no chimeric pups were obtained. Thus, in vitro neural differentiation following naïve-like conversion is a promising option for determining the quality of PSCs without the need to demonstrate chimeric contribution. These results provide an opportunity to evaluate which pluripotent stem cells or treatments are best suited for therapeutic use.
Recent evidence suggests that neurokinin B (NKB), a member of the neurokinin (tachykinin) peptide family, plays a pivotal role in gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) pulse generation. Three types of neurokinin receptors (NKRs), NK1R, NK2R and NK3R, are found in the brain. Although NKB preferentially binds to NK3R, other NKRs are possibly also involved in NKB action. The present study examined the effects of intravenous administration of the NKR subtype-selective agonists GR73632 (NK1R), GR64349 (NK2R), and senktide (NK3R) on GnRH pulse generator activity and luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion. Multiple-unit activity (MUA) was monitored in ovariectomized goats (n = 5) implanted with recording electrodes. Characteristic increases in MUA (MUA volleys) were considered GnRH pulse generator activity. Although three NKR agonists dose-dependently induced an MUA volley and an accompanying increase in LH secretion, the efficacy in inducing the volley markedly differed. As little as 10 nmol of senktide induced an MUA volley in all goats, whereas a dose of 1000 nmol was only effective for the NK1R and NK2R agonists in two and four goats, respectively. When the treatment failed to evoke an MUA volley, no apparent change was observed in the MUA or LH secretion. Similar effects of the NK2R and NK3R agonists were observed in the presence of estradiol. The results demonstrated that NK3R plays a predominant role in GnRH pulse generation and suggested that the contributions of NK1R and NK2R to this mechanism may be few, if any, in goats.
Insulin-like growth factor plays a paracrine/autocrine role in regulating testicular function in the stallion, but its presence in the equine epididymis remains unknown. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) are localized in the caput, corpus, and cauda of the epididymis in an age-dependent manner. Immediately after castration, epididymal tissue was fixed, paraffin-embedded, and processed for immunohistochemistry (IHC). Western blot was also performed using equine epididymal extracts to verify the specificity of the antibodies against IGF-I and IGF-IR. Immunolabeling of IGF-I was observed in the cytoplasm of principal and basal cells in the caput, corpus, and cauda at the pre-pubertal (3–7 months), pubertal (12–18 months), post-pubertal (2–4 years), and adult stages (4.5–8 years). Immunolabeling of IGF-IR was observed in the cytoplasm of principal cells in all regions of the epididymis in each age group. Immunolabeling of IGF-IR was also detected in the cytoplasm of basal cells from animals of all ages. Bands observed by Western blot corresponded to the molecular weights of IGF-I and IGF-IR, ~23 kDa and 95 kDa, respectively. These results suggest that IGF-I might function as an autocrine and/or paracrine factor during the development, maintenance and/or secretions of the stallion epididymis.
Melatonin protects luteinized granulosa cells (GCs) from oxidative stress in the follicle during ovulation. However, it is unclear in which cellular components (e.g., nuclei, mitochondria, or plasma membranes) melatonin works as an antioxidant. GCs from immature (3 wks) ICR mice were incubated with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2; 0.01, 0.1, 1, 10 mM) in the presence or absence of melatonin (100 μg/ml) for 2 h. DNA damage was assessed by fluorescence-based immunocytochemistry using specific antibodies for 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), an indicator of oxidative guanine base damage in DNA, and for histone H2AX phosphorylation (γH2AX), a marker of double-strand breaks of DNA. Mitochondrial function was assessed by the fluorescence intensity of MitoTracker Red probes, which diffuse across the membrane and accumulate in mitochondria with active membrane potentials. Lipid peroxidation of plasma membranes was analyzed by measuring hexanoyl-lysine (HEL), a oxidative stress marker for lipid peroxidation. Apoptosis of GCs was assessed by nuclear fragmentation using DAPI staining, and apoptotic activities were evaluated by caspase-3/7 activities. H2O2 treatment significantly increased the fluorescence intensities of 8-OHdG and γH2AX, reduced the intensity of MitoTracker Red in the mitochondria, increased HEL concentrations in GCs, and enhanced the number of apoptotic cells and caspase-3/7 activities. All these changes were significantly decreased by melatonin treatment. Melatonin reduced oxidative stress-induced DNA damage, mitochondrial dysfunction, lipid peroxidation, and apoptosis in GCs, suggesting that melatonin protects GCs by reducing oxidative stress of cellular components including nuclei, mitochondria, and plasma membranes. Melatonin helps to maintain the integrity of GCs as an antioxidant in the preovulatory follicle.
To determine functional differences between the corpus luteum (CL) of the estrous cycle and pregnancy in cows, gene expression profiles were compared using a 15 K bovine oligo DNA microarray. In the pregnant CL at days 20–25, 40–45 and 150–160, the expressions of 138, 265 and 455 genes differed by a factor of > 2-fold (P < 0.05) from their expressions in the cyclic CL (days 10–12 of the estrous cycle). Messenger RNA expressions of chemokines (eotaxin, lymphotactin and ENA-78) and their receptors (CCR3, XCR1 and CXCR2) were validated by quantitative real-time PCR. Transcripts of eotaxin were more abundant in the CL at days 40–45 and 150–160 of pregnancy than in the cyclic CL (P < 0.01). In contrast, the mRNA expressions of lymphotactin, ENA-78 and XCR1 were lower in the CL of pregnancy (P < 0.05). Messenger RNAs of CCR3 and CXCR2 were similarly detected both in the cyclic and pregnant CL. Tissue protein levels of eotaxin were significantly higher in the CL at days 150–160 of pregnancy than in the CL at other stages, whereas the lymphotactin protein levels in the CL at days 20–25 of pregnancy were lower (P < 0.05). Immunohistochemical staining showed that CCR3 was expressed in the luteal cells and that XCR1 was expressed in both the luteal cells and endothelial cells. Collectively, the different gene expression profiles may contribute to functional differences between the cyclic and pregnant CL, and chemokines including eotaxin and lymphotactin may regulate CL function during pregnancy in cows.
Dynamin 2 is a large GTPase notably involved in clathrin-mediated endocytosis, cell migration and cytokinesis in mitosis. Our previous study identified that Dynamin 2 regulated polar body extrusion in mammalian oocytes, but its roles in early embryo development, remain elusive. Here, we report the critical roles of Dynamin 2 in mouse early embryo development. Dynamin 2 accumulated at the periphery of the blastomere during embryonic development. When Dynamin 2 activity was inhibited by Dynasore, embryos failed to cleave to the 2-cell or 4-cell stage. Moreover, the actin filament distribution and relative amount were aberrant in the treatment group. Similar results were observed when embryos were cultured with Dynasore at the 8-cell stage; the embryos failed to undergo compaction and develop to the morula stage, indicating a role of Dynamin 2 in embryo cytokinesis. Therefore, our data indicate that Dynamin 2 might participate in the early embryonic development through an actin-based cytokinesis.
We investigated the relationship between the persistence of uterine bacterial infections with cytologically determined endometritis and ovarian function in 65 postpartum Holstein cows. Vaginal mucus discharges were collected, and endometrial smear samples (n = 130) were collected for cytological and bacteriological examinations from the cows at weeks 5 and 7 postpartum (pp). Blood samples were collected at weeks 3, 5 and 7 pp to determine plasma progesterone concentrations to monitor ovarian activity. According to the bacteriological examination, cows were classified into four groups. The first group (n = 32; 49%) comprised cows negative for bacteria at weeks 5 and 7 pp. The second group (n = 11; 17%) comprised cows with bacterial infections at week 5 pp but that were clear of infection at week 7 pp. The third group (n = 12; 19%) comprised cows without bacteria at week 5 pp but that acquired an infection by week 7 pp. The fourth group (n = 10; 15%) comprised cows with bacterial infections at weeks 5 and 7 pp (persistence of infection). A positive correlation (P < 0.001) was noted between the severity of cytologically determined endometritis, purulent vaginal discharge and the persistence of infection. Cows with persistent infections had a significantly (P < 0.01) prolonged luteal phase compared with cows without infection. In conclusion, the prevalence of cytologically determined endometritis and prolonged luteal phase were significantly increased in cows with persistent infections.
Generally, sika deer conceive a single fetus, but approximately 80% of pregnant females have two corpora lutea (CLs). The function of the accessory CL (ACL) is unknown; moreover, the process of ACL formation is unclear, and understanding this is necessary to know its role. To elucidate the process of ACL formation, the ovarian dynamics of six adult Hokkaido sika deer females were examined ultrasonographically together with peripheral estradiol-17β and progesterone concentrations. ACLs formed in three females that conceived at the first estrus of the breeding season, but not in those females that conceived at the second estrus. After copulation, postconception ovulation of the dominant follicle of the first wave is induced by an increase in estradiol-17β, which leads to formation of an ACL. A relatively low concentration of progesterone after the first estrus of the breeding season is considered to be responsible for the increase in estradiol-17β after copulation.
The corpus luteum (CL) forms after ovulation and acts as a temporary endocrine gland that produces progesterone (P4), a hormone that is essential for implantation and maintenance of pregnancy in mammals. In pregnant women, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) secreted by the conceptus prevents luteolysis. hCG also increases the survival of cultured human luteinized granulosa cells (hLGCs). To clarify the maintenance mechanism of the human CL, we investigated the effects of hCG and P4 receptor antagonists, onapristone (OP) and RU486, on the viability of hLGCs. With the patients’ consent, hLGCs were isolated from follicular aspirates for in vitro fertilization. The cells were cultured with hCG (0.1, 1, 10, 100 IU/ml), OP (10, 25, 50, 100 μM), RU486 (100 μM), P4 (1, 10, 25, 50 μM) or some combination of the four for 24 h. Cell viability was significantly increased by hCG (100 IU/ml) and significantly decreased by OP (100 μM) compared with the control. Cells treated with hCG and OP together were significantly less viable than the control and OP-treated cells. The combined treatment also significantly increased CASP3 activity and cleaved CASP3 protein expression. Furthermore, P4 addition reversed the reduction in cell viability caused by the combination of hCG and OP treatment. The overall findings suggest that hCG cooperates with P4 to increase survival of hLGCs and to induce apoptosis when P4 action supported by hCG is attenuated in the human CL.
The aim of this study was to investigate whether plasma anti-Muellerian hormone (AMH) levels of Holstein-Friesian heifers could be used to predict ovum pick-up (OPU) and embryo production outcomes. Plasma samples and data were collected from 64 heifers, which underwent repeated OPU with subsequent in vitro embryo production followed by embryo flushing after superovulation. AMH levels were significantly positively correlated with the number of follicles aspirated per OPU session (r = 0.45), recovered oocytes per OPU (r =0.43) and in vitro produced embryos per OPU (r = 0.28). No significant correlations between AMH and in vivo produced embryos were ascertained. Our results suggest that correlations between AMH and outcomes of an OPU-IVF program are too low to use AMH as a precise predictive parameter for the success of a particular OPU procedure in Holstein-Friesian heifers. However, AMH can help to identify groups of very good or very poor oocyte donors.
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