Superovulation (SOV) is a necessary technique to produce large numbers of embryos for embryo transfer. In the conventional methods, follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) is administered to donor cattle twice daily for 3 to 4 days. As this method is labor intensive and stresses cattle, improving this method has been desired. We previously developed a novel and simple SOV method, in which the intramuscular injection of a single dose of FSH in aluminum hydroxide gel (AH-gel) induced the growth of multiple follicles, ovulation and the production of multiple embryos. Here we show that AH-gel can efficiently adsorb FSH and release it effectively in the presence of BSA, a major interstitial protein. When a single intramuscular administration of the FSH and AH-gel mixture was performed to cattle, multiple follicular growth, ovulation and embryo production were induced. However, the treatments caused indurations at the administration sites in the muscle. To reduce the muscle damage, we investigated alternative administration routes and different amounts of aluminum in the gel. By administering the FSH in AH-gel subcutaneously rather than intramuscularly, the amount of aluminum in the gel could be reduced, thus reducing the size of the induration. Moreover, repeated administrations of FSH with AH-gel did not affect the superovulatory response. These results indicate that a single administration of FSH with AH-gel is an effective, novel and practical method for SOV treatment.
The majority of poultry genetic resources are maintained in situ in living populations. However, in situ conservation of poultry genetic resources always carries the risk of loss owing to pathogen outbreaks, genetic problems, breeding cessation, or natural disasters. Cryobanking of germplasm in birds has been limited to the use of semen, preventing conservation of the W chromosome and mitochondrial DNA. A further challenge is posed by the structure of avian eggs, which restricts the cryopreservation of ova and fertilized embryos, a technique widely used for mammalian species. By using a unique biological property and accessibility of avian primordial germ cells (PGCs), precursor cells for gametes, which temporally circulate in the vasculature during early development, an avian PGC transplantation technique has been established. To date, several techniques for PGC manipulation including purification, cryopreservation, depletion, and long-term culture have been developed in chickens. PGC transplantation combined with recent advanced PGC manipulation techniques have enabled ex situ conservation of poultry genetic resources in their complete form. Here, the updated technologies for avian PGC manipulation are introduced, and then the concept of a poultry PGC-bank is proposed by considering the biological properties of avian PGCs.
Polyspermy or the penetration of more than one sperm cell remains a problem during porcine in vitro fertilization (IVF). After in vitro culture of porcine zygotes, only a low percentage of blastocysts develop and their quality is inferior to that of in vivo derived blastocysts. It is unknown whether the cytoplasmic maturation of the oocyte is sufficiently sustained in current in vitro maturation (IVM) procedures. The complex interplay between oocyte and cumulus cells during IVM is a key factor in this process. By focusing on this bidirectional communication, it is possible to control the coordination of cumulus expansion, and nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation during IVM to some extent. Therefore, this review focuses on the regulatory mechanisms between oocytes and cumulus cells to further the development of new in vitro embryo production (IVP) procedures, resulting in less polyspermy and improved oocyte developmental potential. Specifically, we focused on the involvement of cAMP in maturation regulation and function of oocyte-secreted factors (OSFs) in the bidirectional regulatory loop between oocyte and cumulus cells. Our studies suggest that maintaining high cAMP levels in the oocyte during the first half of IVM sustained improved oocyte maturation, resulting in an enhanced response after IVF and cumulus matrix disassembly. Recent research indicated that the addition of OSFs during IVM enhanced the developmental competence of small follicle-derived oocytes, which was stimulated by epidermal growth factor (EGF) via developing EGF-receptor signaling.
The aim of the present study was to clarify if flow-cytometric sex-sorting of bovine sperm affected in vitro blastocyst production in different bulls, either in terms of its ability to fertilize the oocyte or by interfering with post-fertilization embryo development. We performed in vitro fertilization (IVF) using both commercially available frozen-thawed X-sorted and non-sorted sperm of 4 Holstein bulls at 3 concentrations (1 × 106, 2 × 106, and 5 × 106 sperm/ml). When fertilization rates were compared, a variation in fertilization rates among different sperm concentrations was detected in 2 bulls, with similar results for X-sorted and non-sorted sperm. However, we found no evidence that the fertilization rates were affected by the sorting process. To investigate effects on embryo development, we determined the optimum sperm concentration for IVF in each bull, which resulted in similar fertilization rates among bulls. We next performed IVF using both X-sorted and non-sorted sperm of the 4 bulls at their optimum sperm concentration and compared in vitro embryo development. Cleavage rates with X-sorted sperm were similar to their non-sorted counterparts. However, significantly reduced blastocyst development was associated with the use of X-sorted sperm in one bull, whereas in the other three bulls, blastocyst development after IVF with X-sorted and non-sorted sperm was similar. In conclusion, in our system, X-sorting affects in vitro blastocyst production by reducing the developmental competence of fertilized oocytes rather than affecting the fertilization ability of the sperm. However, the occurrence of this phenomenon varies among bulls.
To analyze the relationship of blood metabolite concentrations and body condition score (BCS) with persistent bacterial uterine infection, specifically that caused by Trueperella pyogenes and anaerobic bacteria, uterine bacteriological swabs (n = 128) were collected from 64 Holstein cows at 5 (W5) and 7 (W7) weeks postpartum, and the percentage of neutrophils in the endometrium was evaluated. Blood glucose, total cholesterol (T-cho), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA), and β-hydroxybutyric acid concentrations were analyzed at 3 weeks (W-3) and 1 week (W-1) prepartum and W3, W5, and W7 postpartum. BCS were evaluated at W-3, W3, and W7. Blood glucose concentrations at W-3 and W-1 in cows with persistent bacterial infection were lower (P = 0.05) than in the rest of the cows. Total BUN concentrations in cows with persistent bacterial infection were lower (P < 0.01) than those in other cows, although the association between the pre or postpartum time and status of infection was not significant. Total NEFA concentrations in cows with persistent bacterial infection were similar to those in uninfected cows and cows positive for infection at W5 but not W7. Total BCS in cows with persistent bacterial infection were lower (P < 0.01) than those in cows positive for infection at both W5 but not W7 and W7 but not W5; however, the association between the pre or postpartum time and status of infection was not significant. Glucose concentrations at W-3 and W-1 negatively correlated with persistent bacterial infection at W5 and W7 (P < 0.01). BUN concentrations at W3 (P < 0.01), W5 (P < 0.05), and W7 (P < 0.05) and BCS at W3 (P < 0.01) negatively correlated with persistent postpartum bacterial infection. Decreased prepartum blood glucose concentrations might be an important risk factor for persistent postpartum bacterial uterine infection in dairy cows.
Normal cows have 2 peaks in endometrial epidermal growth factor (EGF) concentrations on Days 2–4 and 13–14, and the absence of peaks has been linked to reduced fertility in repeat breeder (RB) cows. However, the timing of the peaks (i.e., day of examinations) was estimated for a few cows per cycle day. Therefore, the present study characterized EGF peaks and examined if the absence of peaks in RB cows indicate either peak loss or changed timing. In Study 1, 20 Holstein cows were examined for EGF concentrations between Days 1 and 6 using repeated biopsy of the uterine endometrial tissues. Sixteen cows exhibited increased EGF concentrations for 2–3 days between Days 2 and 5. All 16 cows exhibited increased EGF concentrations on Day 3. In Study 2, 10 cows were examined for EGF concentrations between Days 11 and 16. Increased EGF concentrations for 2–3 days were found in 7 cows between Days 12 and 15. All 7 cows exhibited increased EGF concentrations on Days 13 and 14. In Study 3, 12 RB cows were examined for endometrial EGF concentrations between Days 1 and 6. Four cows exhibited an increase of EGF concentrations on Days 3 and 4, whereas 8 cows (66.7%) exhibited low EGF concentrations throughout the study period. In conclusion, Days 3 and 13–14 are suitable days to examine a cyclic change of endometrial EGF concentrations. Further, low EGF concentrations on Day 3 in RB cows indicated an absence, but not altered timing, of the EGF peak.
Elucidating the physiological mechanisms that control reproduction is an obvious strategy for improving the fertility of cattle and developing new agents to control reproductive functions. The present study aimed to identify kisspeptin neurons in the bovine hypothalamus, clarifying that a central mechanism is also present in the cattle brain, as kisspeptin is known to play an important role in the stimulation of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)/gonadotropin secretion in other mammals. To characterize kisspeptin neurons in the bovine hypothalamus, the co-localizations of kisspeptin and neurokinin B (NKB) or kisspeptin and dynorphin A (Dyn) were examined. Hypothalamic tissue was collected from Japanese Black or Japanese Black × Holstein crossbred cows during the follicular and luteal phases. Brain sections, including the arcuate nucleus (ARC) and the preoptic area (POA), were dual immunostained with kisspeptin and either NKB or Dyn. In the ARC, both NKB and Dyn were co-localized in kisspeptin neurons during both the follicular and luteal phases, demonstrating the presence of kisspeptin/NKB/Dyn-containing neurons, referred to as KNDy neurons, in cows. In the POA, no co-localization of kisspeptin with either NKB or Dyn was detected. Kisspeptin expression in the follicular phase was higher than that in the luteal phase, suggesting that kisspeptin expression in the POA is positively controlled by estrogen in cows. The kisspeptin neuronal populations in the ARC and POA likely play important roles in regulating the GnRH pulse and surge, respectively, in cows.
We previously demonstrated that the Runx3 transcription factor is expressed in the hypothalami, pituitaries, and ovaries of mice, and that Runx3 knockout (Runx3−/−) mice are anovulatory and their uteri are atrophic. Runx3 mRNA expression was detected in the granulosa cells of ovarian follicles, and in the anteroventral periventricular nucleus (AVPV) and arcuate nucleus (ARC). In the present study, we examined the effects of Runx3 knockout on the gene expression of enzymes associated with steroidogenesis. We found decreased Cyp11a1 mRNA expression in Runx3−/− mouse ovaries compared with that in wild-type (wt) mouse ovaries at the age of 8 weeks. In situ hybridization analysis showed that the percentages of Cyp11a1 mRNA-expressing theca cells in follicles of Runx3−/− mice were decreased compared with those of wt mice. In accord with the alterations in Runx3−/− mouse ovaries, Kiss1 mRNA levels in ARC were increased, whereas mRNA levels of kisspeptin in AVPV were decreased, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone in the preoptic area and follicle-stimulating hormone β subunit gene were increased in Runx3−/− mice. Following an ovarian transplantation experiment between Runx3−/− mice and wt mice, corpora lutea were observed when ovaries from Runx3−/− mice were transplanted into wt mice, but not when those from wt mice were transplanted into Runx3−/− mice, suggesting that Runx3 in the hypothalamo-pituitary system may drive gonadotropin release to induce ovulation in the ovary. These findings indicate that Runx3 plays a crucial role in the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis.
Although a large number of studies show that photo-period disruption potentially affects hormone secretion in mammals, information about the effects of circadian photo-period disruption during pregnancy on fetal blood reproductive hormone levels is scarce. This study used ewes and their fetuses to determine the effects of circadian photo-period disruption (deprivation of darkness) on follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, estradiol, and progesterone in maternal and fetal circulation at late gestation. Pregnant ewes (gestational age: 135 ± 3 days) were randomly placed into control and dark deprivation groups. The control (N = 5) and dark deprivation (N = 5) groups were exposed to a fixed 12 h light/12 h dark cycle and a 24 h constant light cycle, respectively, for 2 days. Dark deprivation up-regulated follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol levels and down-regulated progesterone levels in both maternal and fetal circulation, and up-regulated luteinizing hormone levels in fetal but not maternal circulation. These results provide new information about how circadian photo-period disruption during pregnancy could alter the release of certain reproductive hormones into fetal blood, which may influence the development of fetal organs in utero, as well as long-term health.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is a neurohormone of the hypothalamus controlling pituitary gonadotropin secretion and hence gametogenesis. While it has also been believed that GnRH is synthesized and functions in various peripheral tissues, the expression of GnRH receptor (GnRH-R) in peripheral tissues is not well-described. We previously found that annexin A5, which is increased in the pituitary gonadotropes by GnRH, is dramatically increased in rat mammary epithelial cells after weaning, suggesting that local GnRH is responsible for this increase. Annexin A5 is a member of the annexin family of proteins and is thought to be involved in various regulatory mechanisms, including apoptosis. In the present study, we examined GnRH-R expression in the mammary tissues after weaning. Although GnRH-R mRNA was not detected in the mammary tissues during lactation, it was dramatically increased after weaning. Forced weaning at mid-lactation (day 10) also promoted the expression of GnRH-R transcripts in mammary tissues within 2 days. Furthermore, western blotting analysis with anti-GnRH-R showed that the expression of an immuno-positive 60-kDa protein, whose size was equivalent to that of rat GnRH-R, was confirmed to increase after weaning. These findings clarified the induction of GnRH-R in the mammary tissues after weaning and suggest that GnRH is involved in the involution and tissue remodeling of post-lactating rat mammary tissues.
The aim of this study was to characterize the expression patterns and localization of the thrombospondin family members (THBS1, THBS2) and their receptors (CD36 and CD47) in bovine ovaries. First, the antral follicles were classified into 5 groups based on the follicle size and estradiol-17beta (E2) concentration in the follicular fluid (< 0.5, 0.5–5, 5–40, 40–180 and >180 E2 ng/ml). Second, the corpus luteum (CL) was assigned to the following stages: days 1–2, 3–4, 5–7, 8–12, 13–16 and >18 of the estrous cycle and of pregnancy (month 1–2, 3–4, 6–7 and > 8). Third, the corpora lutea were collected by transvaginal ovariectomy before and 0.5, 2, 4, 12, 24, 48 and 64 h after inducing luteolysis by injecting a prostaglandin F2alpha analog. The mRNA expression of examined factors was measured by RT-qPCR, steroid hormone concentration by EIA, and localization by immunohistochemistry. The mRNA expression of THBS1, THBS2, CD36, and CD47 in the granulosa cells and theca interna was high in the small follicles and reduced in the preovulatory follicles. The mRNA expression of THBS1, THBS2, and CD47 in the CL during the estrous cycle was high, but decreased significantly during pregnancy. After induced luteolysis, thrombospondins increased significantly to reach the maximum level at 12 h for THBS1, 24 h for THBS2, and 48 h for CD36. The temporal expression and localization pattern of the thrombospondins and their specific receptors in the antral follicles and corpora lutea during the different physiological phases of the estrous cycle and induced luteolysis appear to be compatible with their inhibitory role in the control of ovarian angiogenesis.
Genetically modified pigs that express fluorescent proteins such as green and red fluorescent proteins have become indispensable biomedical research tools in recent years. Cell or tissue transplantation studies using fluorescent markers should be conducted, wherein the xeno-antigenicity of the fluorescent proteins does not affect engraftment or graft survival. Thus, we aimed to create a transgenic (Tg)-cloned pig that was immunologically tolerant to fluorescent protein antigens. In the present study, we generated a Tg-cloned pig harboring a derivative of Plum modified by a single amino acid substitution in the chromophore. The cells and tissues of this Tg-cloned pig expressing the modified Plum (mPlum) did not fluoresce. However, western blot and immunohistochemistry analyses clearly showed that the mPlum had the same antigenicity as Plum. Thus, we have obtained primary proof of principle for creating a cloned pig that is immunologically tolerant to fluorescent protein antigens.
Rat oocytes can be produced artificially by superovulation. Because some strains show low sensitivity to superovulation treatment, in vitro maturation is an alternative method to produce numerous matured oocytes. Furthermore, establishment of an in vitro maturation system with simple culture conditions is cost effective and leads to easy handling of oocytes. This study examined developmental ability of rat germinal vesicle (GV) oocytes maturing in vitro under simple culture conditions. Significantly different numbers of ovulated oocytes reached the second metaphase of meiosis (MII) among Jcl:Wistar (17.0), F344/Stm (31.0), and BN/SsNSlc (2.2) rats in whom superovulation was induced by pregnant mare serum gonadotropin (PMSG) and human chorionic gonadotropin. However, similar numbers of GV oocytes were obtained from ovaries of PMSG-injected Wistar (27.7), F344 (34.7), and BN (24.7) rats. These GV oocytes were cultured in vitro in HTF, αMEM, and a 1:1 HTF + αMEM or TYH + αMEM mixture. High proportions of Wistar and F344 oocytes that matured to MII in αMEM were parthenogenetically activated by strontium chloride treatment (78% and 74%, respectively). Additionally, 10% of matured oocytes of both strains developed into offspring after intracytoplasmic sperm injection and embryo transfer to foster mothers. Although BN oocytes cultured in αMEM could be parthenogenetically activated and developed into offspring, the success rate was lower than that for Wistar and F344 oocytes. This study demonstrated that numerous GV oocytes were produced in rat ovaries by PMSG injection. This simple in vitro maturation system of immature oocytes could be further developed to maintain valuable rat strains experiencing reproductive difficulties.
In cynomolgus macaques, an important animal species for biomedical research, efficient reproduction has been hampered partly due to the difficulties of artificial insemination (AI) using straw tubes developed for humans or farm animals, because cynomolgus macaques have a complex cervical canal structure. In this study, taking into consideration the unique structure of the macaque cervical canal, we developed a novel device for AI, comprised of a syringe and an outer cylinder. At 24 and 48 h after using this device to inject semen into one female, viable sperm were observed in the oviduct where the sperm meets the oocytes. We then attempted AI using this new device on 10 females that were at pre-ovulation, and pregnancy was successful in three animals (30% pregnancy rate). These results show that the newly developed device can be used for AI in cynomolgus macaques.
The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) system is a useful tool for genome editing. In this study, using a microinjection-based CRISPR/Cas9 system, we efficiently generated mouse lines carrying mutations at the Irx3 and Irx5 loci, which are located in close proximity on a chromosome and are functionally redundant. During the generation of Irx3/Irx5 double mutant mice, a deletion of ~0.5 Mb between the Irx3 and Irx5 loci was unintentionally identified in 6 out of 27 living pups by PCR based genotyping analysis. This deletion was confirmed by DNA fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis of fibroblasts. These results indicate that the mutant mice with a deletion of at least 0.5 Mb in their genome can be generated by the CRISPR/Cas9 system through microinjection into fertilized eggs. Our findings expand the utility of the CRISPR/Cas9 system in production of disease model animals with large deletions.