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Vertebrate reproductive science and technology

Reproduction, Fertility and Development

Reproduction, Fertility and Development

Reproduction, Fertility and Development publishes research and reviews on all aspects of vertebrate reproduction and developmental biology. Read more about the journalMore

Editor-in-Chief: Graeme Martin

Current Issue

Reproduction, Fertility and Development

Volume 30 Number 4 2018

Adiponectin may be a potent therapeutic agent for recovery of the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) condition. The aim of the present study was to unravel the role of adiponectin in regulating reproduction, metabolism and fertility status in mice in which PCOS had been induced. Reversal of PCOS-like features following adiponectin treatment in mice is a major breakthrough with regard to the effective management of PCOS.

Milk fat globule-EGF factor 8 protein (MFGE8) is a protein that promotes cell to cell adhesion and is thought to play an essential role in embryo implantation in mice and humans. We have described the expression of MFGE8 in the equine uterus and found particular strong expression of the protein by the fetal portion of the placenta. These results imply a role for MFGE8 in maintaining an intact placenta during mare pregnancy.

During cryopreservation, spermatozoa undergo cryodamage because of membrane changes, including sterol loss, which results in diminished post-thaw fertilisation ability. The present study showed that loading of cholesterol and desmosterol into chicken spermatozoa prior to cryopreservation enhanced their post-thaw quality by inhibiting apoptotic changes and premature acrosome reaction, providing new mechanistic insight into cryodamage in chicken spermatozoa.

RD17241Effect of lipopolysaccharide on the expression of inflammatory mRNAs and microRNAs in the mouse oviduct

Katheryn L. Cerny, Rosanne A. C. Ribeiro, Qing Li, James C. Matthews and Phillip J. Bridges
pp. 600-608

Uncontrolled inflammation of the oviduct can result in tubal occlusion and infertility. This inflammation is often in response to infection with sexually transmitted bacterial pathogens. This study describes how the endotoxin from Escherichia coli-derived lipopolysaccharide affects the expression of inflammatory mRNAs and post-transcriptionally modifying miRNAs within the oviduct, providing novel insight into the molecular regulation of inflammation within this key reproductive organ.

RD17018Expression of kisspeptin protein in hypothalamus and LH profile of growing female lambs

Jolanta Polkowska, Anna Wójcik-Gładysz, Natalia Chmielewska and Marta Wańkowska
pp. 609-618

Kisspeptin peptide is a major regulator of initiation of pubertal actions in the central nervous system, but its development in growing animals is obscure. The presence of kisspeptin neurons in the brain from birth to puberty in relation to luteinising hormone release pattern was analysed in female lambs. Activity of kisspeptin neurons increased gradually parallel with augmentation of luteinising hormone release and reached maturation several weeks before puberty. The participation of kisspeptin in the development of the ovine reproductive processes is suggested.

RD17209Prospective evaluation of uterine receptivity in mice

Hitomi Nakamura, Takayoshi Hosono, Keiichi Kumasawa and Tadashi Kimura
pp. 619-623

To improve current infertility treatments, it is necessary to evaluate uterine receptivity in each menstrual cycle. If this can be evaluated beforehand, when uterine receptivity is inadequate eggs could be stored using cryopreservation. In this study in a mouse model, we identified an electrophysiological parameter that can evaluate uterine receptivity prospectively.

Signalling pathways responsible for follicular activation in the mare remain uncharacterised. Messenger RNA expression and protein localisation of members of the PI3K/AKT and JAK/STAT pathways were analysed using tissue from fetal and adult mare ovaries. Findings suggest that members of these pathways are indeed present and may serve as useful biomarkers for assessment of ovary development in the horse.

RD17049Identification and expression of forkhead box genes in the Chinese giant salamander Andrias davidianus

Qiaomu Hu, Hanbing Xiao, Qilong Wang, Haifeng Tian and Yan Meng
pp. 634-642

The forkhead box (Fox) gene family encodes multiple forkhead proteins that exhibit marked functional diversity and are involved in biological processes, especially sex differentiation. The identification, characterisation, selective pressure, protein structure and expression pattern of Fox genes in response to temperature were investigated in the present study in the Chinese giant salamander Andrias davidianus to enrich the sexual development and reproduction mechanism in amphibian.

RD17203Effect of melatonin on bovine theca cells in vitro

T. Feng, L. F. Schutz, B. C. Morrell, M. C. Perego and L. J. Spicer
pp. 643-650

The role of melatonin as an endocrine regulator of reproductive activity is well known; however, whether it stimulates or inhibits reproductive function varies across species. We demonstrated that in vitro exposure to melatonin reduced steroid production by ovarian theca cells in cattle, implicating melatonin as a regulator of reproductive function in cattle. Because reduced reproductive capacity leads to economic losses, an understanding of the effects of melatonin on ovarian function may lead to new ways to increase reproductive efficiency in cattle.

RD17184Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor A isoforms is dysregulated in women with endometriosis

Kevin Danastas, Emily J. Miller, Alison J. Hey-Cunningham, Christopher R. Murphy and Laura A. Lindsay
pp. 651-657

Angiogenesis is a vital process in the development and survival of lesions during endometriosis. In the present study we identified upregulation of several isoforms of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) A in the endometrium of women with endometriosis during menstruation and, for the first time, identified the natural expression of the VEGF111 isoform in humans. These findings contribute to our understanding of how the endometrium differs in women with endometriosis, and indicates a dysregulation at the critical time of menstruation.

RD17356Secretome derived from different cell lines in bovine embryo production in vitro

C. Perrini, P. Esposti, F. Cremonesi and A. Lange Consiglio
pp. 658-671

Do extracellular vesicles have a biological role in the communication between the embryo and its microenvironment during in vitro culture? In this study we showed that embryos were able to incorporate microvesicles obtained from endometrium and amnion, but only amniotic progenitor cell-derived microvesicles resulted in better blastocyst production rate and quality compared to control. This study could be a useful starting point for further studies related to paracrine mechanisms of communication between embryos and the culture medium.

This research provides new insight into central molecular mechanisms regulating GnRH/LH secretion in anestrous sheep. To better explain this problem, herein, we demonstrated that RF-amide peptides are involved in dopamine-induced inhibition of GnRH/LH secretion. Studies expanded an important issue in the field of neuroendocrinology of reproduction, especially in cognitive appraisals of mechanisms participating in physiological regulation of GnRH/LH biosynthesis.

Online Early

The peer-reviewed and edited version of record published online before inclusion in an issue

Despite the existence of computer-aided sperm analysis (CASA) for many years, clinical use among ‘fertility laboratories’ remains limited, despite clear weaknesses in manual semen analysis. Early CASA systems failed to instil confidence and provide a reliable sperm count. However, recent CASA-Mot systems have been validated to provide sperm concentration, motility and velocity, and the benefits related to objectivity and reproducibility should be made clearer.

Published online 14 March 2018

RD17377Anti-Müllerian hormone receptor type 2 is expressed in gonadotrophs of postpubertal heifers to control gonadotrophin secretion

Onalenna Kereilwe, Kiran Pandey, Vitaliano Borromeo and Hiroya Kadokawa

This study revealed that gonadotrophs express the receptor for anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) in postpubertal heifers, and that the AMH receptor colocalised with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone receptors on the surface of gonadotrophs. Furthermore, AMH stimulated gonadotrophin secretion from anterior pituitary cells of postpubertal heifers. Therefore, preantral and small antral follicles may secret AMH to control gonadotrophin secretion from gonadotrophs in postpubertal heifers.

Published online 14 March 2018

RD17188Implication of transcriptome profiling of spermatozoa for stallion fertility

Yara Suliman, Frank Becker and Klaus Wimmers

Equines are bred primarily for sport and pleasure. They are selected mainly on the basis of their pedigree and athletic competence, which are not related to good fertility potential. The fertility of horses is one of the most important factors affecting breeding success. In this study, genetic processes relevant to stallion fertility were identified. To this end, two groups of warmblood stallions were used (a fertile and a subfertile group, determined on the basis of reproductive success and sperm characteristics). The results of this study may be helpful in predicting stallion fertility and in the selection of future breeding stallions.

Published online 14 March 2018

RD17544Abnormal extracellular matrix remodelling in the cervix of pregnant relaxin-deficient mice is not associated with reduced matrix metalloproteinase expression or activity

Sarah A. Marshall, Jonathan T. McGuane, Yu May Soh, Helen M. Gehring, Emma Simpson and Laura J. Parry

Pregnant mice that lack the hormone relaxin have an abnormal cervix and cannot give birth, mainly because there is excess collagen. The aim of this study was to uncover the underlying mechanisms of abnormal cervical remodelling by studying matrix metalloproteinases, enzymes that regulate collagen. We showed that increased cervical collagen in relaxin-deficient mice is not due to deficits in these enzymes, suggesting a different mechanism of relaxin action on collagen in this tissue.

Published online 14 March 2018

RD17475Evaluation of sperm motility with CASA-Mot: which factors may influence our measurements?

Marc Yeste, Sergi Bonet, Joan E. Rodríguez-Gil and Maria M. Rivera Del Álamo

In this paper we review the main factors that may affect the evaluation of sperm motility through computer-aided sperm analysis (CASA-Mot) related to the sample, slide, microscope, hardware, software and user. The take-home message of this article is that both commercial and non-commercial CASA systems are available, and all are appropriate for routine analysis. However, in all cases, standard protocols for evaluation and methods for system validation are required.

Published online 13 March 2018

RD17469Short-term effect of FSH on gene expression in bovine granulosa cells in vitro

Anne-Laure Nivet, Isabelle Dufort, Isabelle Gilbert and Marc-André Sirard

The most important hormone that stimulates the ovary to grow follicles in each sexual cycle is FSH. The effects of FSH on the genome of ovarian cells are wide and complex. Using a DNA microarray, the present study investigated the genes responding to FSH and grouped them by function.

Published online 09 March 2018

RD17460Sperm motility in fish: technical applications and perspectives through CASA-Mot systems

V. Gallego and J. F. Asturiano

Sperm motility is nowadays considered the best biomarker for fish spermatozoa, becoming a powerful and useful tool for aquaculture and ecological purposes. A high number of sperm kinetic parameters from more than 170 fish species has been reported in more than 700 scientific articles, covering a wide range of topics. This review provides an overview of the major research areas in which fish sperm motility assessment by computer-aided sperm analysis (CASA) has been used successfully.

Published online 08 March 2018

RD17432CASA-Mot in mammals: an update

J. L. Yániz, M. A. Silvestre, P. Santolaria and C. Soler

Computer-aided sperm motility analysis systems have broad scientific and practical relevance. The sources of variation and current applications of these systems and their relationships with other sperm quality tests are discussed. There is still a great need for standardisation in many species, and future systems will probably be able to integrate several sperm quality parameters with motility.

In this article we show how exploiting the rapid (<5 s) stimulatory effect of bicarbonate on boar spermatozoa can be used experimentally to investigate how sperm motility is controlled by molecules of the female reproductive tract. This includes motility inhibition, which can most easily be measured after first using bicarbonate to induce maximal sperm activation. In a wider context, this approach lends itself to the development of sperm motility-based assays for toxicity testing in many different fields.

Published online 08 March 2018

RD17472New objective measurements of semen wave motion are associated with fertility in sheep

I. David, P. Kohnke, J. Fehrenbach, A. R. Lopes Simoes, E. Debreuve, X. Descombes, F. Plouraboue, P. Degond and X. Druart

The microscopic observation at low magnification of a drop of undiluted ram semen shows a collective motion of spermatozoa called wave motion and is used as a semen quality assessment. Objective assessment methods of semen turbulence based on optical flow and fluorescent bead motion showed similar efficiency as subjective wave motion score to predict fertility after insemination. This objective method of semen quality assessment could be used in species such as bovine, sheep, goat and domestic birds.

Published online 07 March 2018

RD17456Anabolic effects of chrysin on the ventral male prostate and female prostate of adult gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus)

Mônica S. Campos, Naiara C. S. Ribeiro, Rodrigo F. de Lima, Mariana B. Santos, Patrícia S. L. Vilamaior, Luis O. Regasini, Manoel F. Biancardi, Sebastião R. Taboga and Fernanda C. A. Santos

Chrysin has been recognized as beneficial for reproduction; however, its effects on the prostate are poorly understood. This morphological study demonstrated that chrysin promoted anabolic effects on the prostate of male and female gerbils, resulting in hyperplastic growth, stromal remodelling and stimulation of the biosynthetic–secretory pathway. Thus, chrysin intake should be considered with caution, since it changes prostate biology.

Published online 06 March 2018

RD17339A genetic method for sex determination in Ovis spp. by interruption of the zinc finger protein, Y-linked (ZFY) gene on the Y chromosome

Yong Sheng Zhang, Ying Chun Du, Li Rong Sun, Xu Hai Wang, Shuai Bing Liu, Ji Feng Xi, Chao Cheng Li, Rui Wen Ying, Song Jiang, Xiang Zu Wang, Hong Shen and Bin Jia

This paper is focused on the ZFY gene in Hu-sheep testis which plays an important role in sex determination and spermatogenesis. We interrupted the Hu-sheep ZFY gene by RNAi and analysed the semen quality, sperm abnormalities, and offspring sex ratio. The function of ZFY gene in Hu-sheep spermatogenesis and reproduction was unearthed by us.

Published online 16 February 2018

RD17508cAMP response element-binding protein 1 controls porcine ovarian cell proliferation, apoptosis, and FSH and insulin-like growth factor 1 response

A. V. Sirotkin, A. Ben?o, A. Tandlmajerová, M. Lauková, D. Vaší?ek, J. Laurin?ik, J. Kornhauser, S. Alwasel and A. H. Harrath

This study is the first to demonstrate that the transcription factor cAMP response element-binding protein 1 (CREB1) controls ovarian cell proliferation and apoptosis without having to be phosphorylated, but it does not mediate the effects of the upstream hormonal regulators. CREB1 appears to be a novel intracellular regulator of reproduction.

Published online 16 February 2018

RD16481Phyto-oestrogens affect fertilisation and embryo development in vitro in sheep

Anna Aryani Amir, Jennifer M. Kelly, David O. Kleemann, Zoey Durmic, Dominique Blache and Graeme B. Martin

Genistein, biochanin A and formononetin are phyto-oestrogens that cause ‘clover disease’, a serious disruption of reproduction in sheep. All three phyto-oestrogens, when present during in vitro maturation of ovine oocytes, will disrupt subsequent fertilisation and embryo development. These observations help explain clover disease, and also show how artificial reproductive technology could be used to screen forage species before industrial release.

Published online 12 February 2018

RD17409Loss of hamster Leydig cells during regression after exposure to a short photoperiod

E. Beltrán-Frutos, V. Seco-Rovira, J. Martínez-Hernández, C. Ferrer and L. M. Pastor

Testicular regression after to exposure a short photoperiod in Syrian hamster is a good model in which to study changes in the population of Leydig cells. During regression, the number of Leydig cells decreases and three types of cells (A, B and C) are observed. Type B and C cells exhibit characteristics of necrosis, which implies that elimination of Leydig cells must be the result of necrosis and/or necroptosis.

Published online 08 February 2018

RD17164Dietary rumen-protected arginine and N-carbamylglutamate supplementation enhances fetal growth in underfed ewes

Lingwei Sun, Hao Zhang, Ziyu Wang, Yixuan Fan, Yixuan Guo and Feng Wang

Maternal undernutrition may lead to fetal intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). This study revealed that arginine supplementation to underfed ewes ameliorated fetal IUGR by improving metabolic homeostasis of fetal endocrinology, increasing the availability of amino acids in tissues and affecting the expression of somatotropic axis genes. This indicates that arginine could mitigate significant decreases in fetal growth due to maternal undernutrition.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of female infertility. A-Kinase anchor protein 95 was found to be involved in the development of PCOS by regulating aromatase. The findings of this study will help us better understand the pathogenesis of PCOS and may help with the clinical diagnosis and prognosis of PCOS in the future.

Published online 31 January 2018

RD17445Recent and emerging reproductive biology research in Australia and New Zealand: highlights from the Society for Reproductive Biology Annual Meeting, 2017

M. J. Bertoldo, P. H. Andraweera, E. G. Bromfield, F. L. Cousins, L. A. Lindsay, P. Paiva, S. L. Regan, R. D. Rose and L. K. Akison

Reproductive research is essential to our understanding of the factors contributing to a healthy pregnancy, birth and child. This review of the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Society for Reproductive Biology summarises the key themes, significant questions and emerging technologies presented in the symposia. In particular, it highlights the importance of the pre- and periconceptional environment for setting a suitable trajectory for offspring health well into adulthood.

Published online 25 January 2018

RD17179Nutritional status affects the microRNA profile of the hypothalamus of female sheep

Heng Yang, Shan Lin, Xiaoping Lei, Cong Yuan, Yaosheng Yu, Zongsheng Zhao and Jingbo Chen

This study mainly explored the effects of nutrition on seasonal patterns of the ovine estrus cycle in the non-breeding season. Based on low or high nutrition levels, it was found that two nutritional factors (tyrosine and folic acid) were involved in the regulation of oestrous pathways during the anestrous season, and the GNAQ gene is an important regulatory hub between nutritional and photoperiodic regulation of seasonal breeding in sheep.

Published online 25 January 2018

RD17340Aquaporin 11 is related to cryotolerance and fertilising ability of frozen–thawed bull spermatozoa

Roser Morató, Noelia Prieto-Martínez, Rodrigo Muiño, Carlos O. Hidalgo, Joan E. Rodríguez-Gil, Sergi Bonet and Marc Yeste

This work examined the presence and localisation of AQP11 in bull spermatozoa. We observed that AQP11 is localised in the head and tail of bull sperm cells and that it is related to bull sperm cryotolerance. In addition, the relative AQP11-content in fresh bull semen was found to be correlated with reproductive outcomes evaluated both in vitro and in vivo.

Published online 15 January 2018

RD17224Gene expression and lymphocyte population at the fetal-maternal interface in sheep pregnancies established by somatic cell nuclear transfer

Jason A. Koroghli, Elizabeth Floyd, Misha Regouski, Kerry Rood, Kirsten Gash, Kip Panter, Rusty Stott, Christopher J. Davies, Irina A. Polejaeva and Heloisa M. Rutigliano

Animal cloning is a very inneficient process in many mammalian species. The successful establishment of pregnancy is dependent on a controlled interaction between the developing placenta and the maternal immune system. We observed an altered expression of genes related to inflammation, growth and apoptosis in placentas of cloned sheep, which likely contribute to the placental dysfunction and fetal overgrowth observed in these pregnancies.

Published online 15 January 2018

RD17315In vivo and in vitro strategies to support caprine preantral follicle development after ovarian tissue vitrification

N. J. Donfack, K. A. Alves, B. G. Alves, R. M. P. Rocha, J. B. Bruno, L. F. Lima, C. H. Lobo, R. R. Santos, S. F. S. Domingues, M. Bertolini, J. Smitz and A. P. R. Rodrigues

Transplantation of ovarian tissue is a good alternative to study follicular development after cryopreservation because in vitro culture is still a major challenge. The present study compared fresh and vitrified goat ovarian tissue after autotransplantation and in vitro culture. Antral follicle formation was observed 3 months after autotransplantation of fresh and vitrified goat ovary and ovarian function was restored.

Published online 12 January 2018

RD17145Culture conditions affect Ca2+ release in artificially activated mouse and human oocytes

Yuechao Lu, Davina Bonte, Minerva Ferrer-Buitrago, Mina Popovic, Jitesh Neupane, Margot Van der Jeught, Luc Leybaert, Petra De Sutter and Björn Heindryckx

Ionomycin is a Ca2+-selective ionophore commonly used in assisted oocyte activation (AOA), to overcome failed fertilisation. We investigated the effect of external ionomycin and Ca2+, supplemented to the culture media during AOA, on activation efficiency and embryonic developmental potential, in both mouse and human oocytes. The demonstrated effect of commercial medium on the pattern of Ca2+ release and further embryonic developmental potential should be considered when applying AOA in the clinic.

Published online 12 January 2018

RD17316Implications of body condition and seasonality on morphological and functional parameters of testes of Myotis nigricans (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae)

Marcelo Ferreira, Aline Soldati, Sirlene S. S. Rodrigues and Laércio dos Anjos Benjamin

Bats are excellent indicators of environmental quality and their reproduction is affected by climate change. This study highlighted the effects of body condition and seasonality on reproductive behaviour, demonstrating changes in the morphofunctional parameters of the testes between rainy and dry seasons.

Published online 09 January 2018

RD17336Patterns of conceptus development and of progesterone concentrations in maternal blood preceding spontaneous early pregnancy failure in mares

Keith J. Betteridge, James I. Raeside, Rudolf O. Waelchli, Heather L. Christie and M. Anthony Hayes

Early pregnancy loss compromises reproduction in horses; up to 20% of pregnancies diagnosed by Day 15 fail, mostly before Day 40. Daily monitoring of conceptus growth (by ultrasound) and maternal blood progesterone concentrations (by radioimmunoassay) during 16 spontaneous losses between Days 13 and 25 has revealed that luteolysis might contribute to early loss more often than previously contended, with implications for the experimental investigation and clinical management of the problem.

Published online 08 January 2018

RD17242Steroid hormone concentrations and body mass are differently affected by polyunsaturated fatty acids during the oestrous cycle in guinea pigs

Matthias Nemeth, Bernard Wallner, Carina Siutz, Elisabeth Pschernig, Karl-Heinz Wagner and Eva Millesi

Steroid hormone fluctuations during the mammalian oestrous cycle can be differently affected by dietary ω3 and ω6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). In this study we determined the effects of plasma free PUFA patterns on the guinea pig oestrous cycle and found positive effects of ω3 PUFAs on sex hormone concentrations and negative effects on cortisol concentrations only in oestrus, whereas the effects of ω6 PUFAs were detrimental. The findings demonstrate opposite and selective contributions of PUFAs during different stages of the oestrous cycle and a high biological relevance of plasma free PUFAs.

Published online 05 January 2018

RD17072d-Aspartate amends reproductive performance of aged roosters by changing gene expression and testicular histology

Mahdi Ansari, Mahdi Zhandi, Hamid Kohram, Mojtaba Zaghari, Mostafa Sadeghi, Maedeh Gholami, Hamid Deldar, Maria Maddalena Di Fiore and Andrew Parks Benson

Fertility loss is a major problem in roosters in the commercial poultry industry. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of orally administered d-aspartate on the reproductive performance of roosters. The findings reveal that the positive effects of d-aspartate are probably mediated via changes in gene expression and testicular histology. This study shows that dietary supplementation with d-aspartate is an easy and practical strategy to mitigate the reproductive loss in roosters.

Published online 05 January 2018

RD17194The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, JNJ-7706621, improves in vitro developmental competence of porcine parthenogenetic activation and somatic cell nuclear transfer embryos

Qing Guo, Long Jin, Hai-Ying Zhu, Xiao-Xu Xing, Mei-Fu Xuan, Qi-Rong Luo, Guang-Lei Zhang, Zhao-Bo Luo, Jun-Xia Wang, Xi-Jun Yin and Jin-Dan Kang

In mammals, the success rate of oocyte activation is one of the main factors that influences the efficiency of parthenogenetic activation (PA) and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). In this study, a new oocyte-activated reagent, JNJ-7706621, was applied in the production of porcine PA and SCNT embryos and was found to improve in vitro developmental competence by suppressing the level of MPF.

Published online 05 January 2018

RD17389Metabolomic profiling of bovine oviductal fluid across the oestrous cycle using proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Julie Lamy, Julie Gatien, Florine Dubuisson, Lydie Nadal-Desbarats, Pascal Salvetti, Pascal Mermillod and Marie Saint-Dizier

Thirty-nine metabolites, including 14 amino acids, were identified in the bovine oviductal fluid. Regardless of the cycle stage or ovulation side, lactate, myo-inositol and glycine were the most abundant metabolites. The fold changes in metabolite levels between stages or ovulation sides were less than 1.7 except for glucose-1-phosphate which was highly regulated across the estrous cycle.

Published online 18 December 2017

RD17225Effect of heifer age on the granulosa cell transcriptome after ovarian stimulation

David A. Landry, Rémi Labrecque, François-Xavier Grand, Christian Vigneault, Patrick Blondin and Marc-André Sirard

It is well documented that oocytes from super stimulated heifers are less competent compared to sexually mature cows. In this study, we characterized the changes in granulosa cells gene expression within the same heifers approaching puberty following ovarian stimulation. We found a lower level of signaling in: cell differentiation, inflammation and apoptosis, suggesting an insufficient support of luteinizing hormone during FSH withdrawal.

Published online 06 December 2017

RD17250Role of activin C in normal ovaries and granulosa cell tumours of mice and humans

Karen L. Reader, Francesco E. Marino, Helen D. Nicholson, Gail P. Risbridger and Elspeth J. Gold

Activin C can delay the growth of mouse granulosa cell tumours, but little is known about its function in normal ovaries. This study shows that activin C protein is expressed in normal mouse and human ovaries, and can delay the development of abnormal follicles in mice lacking inhibin, but does not appear to alter normal follicle growth in the mouse. This study provides evidence of a role for activin C in the ovary.

Published online 06 December 2017

RD17343Influence of postnatal prolactin modulation on the development and maturation of ventral prostate in young rats

Ana C. L. Camargo, Flávia B. Constantino, Sérgio A. A. Santos, Ketlin T. Colombelli, Maeli Dal-Pai-Silva, Sérgio L. Felisbino and Luis A. Justulin

Prostate development and function are altered by early postnatal exposure to prolactin imbalance. Prolactin modulation interferes with the determination of ventral prostate development and maturation through a mechanism of increasing the epithelial proliferative response and dynamics of cell differentiation. Changes in prostate morphophysiology after prolactin modulation could affect glandular function and the incidence of disorders associated with aging.

Published online 28 November 2017

RD17165De novo transcription of thyroid hormone receptors is essential for early bovine embryo development in vitro

N.-Y. Rho, F. A. Ashkar, T. Revay, P. Madan, G.-J. Rho, W. A. King and L. A. Favetta

This article contributes to a better understanding of which transcripts are involved in early embryonic development, when the embryos still rely on the maternal genetic component and after they activate their own genome. We identified the thyroid hormone receptor, especially the β-subunit, as one of the few genes transcribed before major embryonic genome activation with an essential role for development.

Published online 23 November 2017

RD17286Bovine oviductal and uterine fluid support in vitro embryo development

Meriem Hamdi, Ricaurte Lopera-Vasquez, Veronica Maillo, Maria Jesus Sanchez-Calabuig, Carolina Núnez, Alfonso Gutierrez-Adan and Dimitrios Rizos

During preimplantation development, the bovine embryo is free floating in oviduct and uterine fluids. We aimed to mimic the physiological conditions of the maternal environment in the present study by supplementing serum-free embryo culture medium in vitro with both fluids sequentially. The results revealed that low concentrations of oviduct and uterine fluids support early embryo development and improve blastocyst quality.

Published online 22 November 2017

RD16519Composition of marsupial zona pellucida: a molecular and phylogenetic approach

Carla Moros-Nicolás, Pascale Chevret, María José Izquierdo-Rico, William V. Holt, Daniela Esteban-Díaz, Manel López-Béjar, Eva Martínez-Nevado, Maria A. Nilsson, José Ballesta and Manuel Avilés

The zona pellucida (ZP) is an extracellular matrix formed by a few glycoproteins that covers the oocyte and plays an important role during fertilization. The identification of the components of the ZP in marsupials is relevant for the cellular understanding of female gamete formation, sperm interaction with the ZP and fertilisation. Molecular and in silico analyses demonstrated a different ZP composition between Australasian and South American marsupials, being formed from four to six proteins. The present findings have potential relevance from a biological, ecological and economic point of view, related to the development of new contraceptive vaccines for marsupials.

Published online 21 November 2017

RD17096Effect of exogenous progesterone on embryo size and ewe uterine gene expression in an ovine ‘dam size' model of maternal constraint

Lisanne M. Fermin, Sarah J. Pain, Patrick C. H. Morel, Kristene R. Gedye, Paul R. Kenyon and Hugh T. Blair

The preimplantation period of pregnancy is a critical period for determining growth of the conceptus. This study examined the use of progesterone treatment as a means of overcoming maternal constraint effects on embryo growth. Exogenous progesterone was found to indirectly advance embryo growth via alteration of endometrial genes that encode for uterine structural and secretory activity and thereby overcome maternal constraint.

Published online 16 November 2017

RD17102Peri-conception and first trimester diet modifies reproductive development in bulls

K. J. Copping, M. D. Ruiz-Diaz, C. S. Rutland, N. P. Mongan, M. J. Callaghan, I. C. McMillen, R. J. Rodgers and V. E. A. Perry

Nutritional perturbation during early gestation has been shown to alter male reproductive development in rodents and sheep. This study examined the effects of dietary protein perturbation during the peri-conception and first trimester periods upon reproductive development in both fetal and pubertal male bovine progeny. Low maternal dietary protein negatively impacted reproductive development in pubertal and postpubertal offspring. This research highlights that further studies are warranted to explore causal relationships between gestational nutrition and consequent postnatal male reproductive development in cattle.

Published online 15 November 2017

RD17028Molecular cloning and epigenetic change detection of Kiss1 during seasonal reproduction in Chinese indigenous sheep

Xiaoyun He, Qiuyue Liu, Xiaoyu Li, Xiaofei Guo, Xiangyu Wang, Wenping Hu, Ran Di and Mingxing Chu

The Kiss1 gene plays a major role in reproductive seasonality of sheep. This study aimed to confirm that epigenetic modification occurs in sheep during the reproductive cycle. A potential role of histone acetylation modification in altering Kiss1 expression, which may consequently regulate seasonal breeding in sheep, was found. This study may offer a theoretical basis for breeding year-round oestrous sheep.

Published online 15 November 2017

RD17163Changes in bone turnover and calcium homeostasis during pregnancy and lactation in mammals: a meta-analysis

Diego A. Torres, Mariella B. Freitas and Reggiani V. Gonçalves

Due to fetal and neonatal bone tissue calcification, the maternal calcium demand increases during pregnancy and lactation. To supply this calcium demand, female mammals undergo numerous physiological changes during reproduction. In the present study, we performed a meta-analysis of studies reporting changes in bone mineral density, serum calcium and calciotropic hormone concentrations during pregnancy and lactation in mammals. The results provide a quantitative background to better explain and understand these physiological adaptations.

Published online 15 November 2017

RD17292Proteinaceous sperm motility inhibitory factor from the female Indian garden lizard Calotes versicolor

Goutham Shankar, Shubhashree Uppangala, Satish K. Adiga, Belinda Willard, Bhadravathi K. C. Sagar, Ruth S. K. Titus and Gopal K. Marathe

Female sperm storage is known across many animal phyla, but the mechanism(s) remains elusive. Using the Indian garden lizard, Calotes versicolor as a model, we identified a unique abundant protein of ~55-kDa in the uterovaginal region that controls the motility of the spermatozoa. These studies are likely to unravel the secrets of sperm storage.

Published online 10 November 2017

RD17265Effects of N-carbamylglutamate and L-arginine on gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) gene expression and secretion in GT1-7 cells

Y. Liu, J. H. Bai, X. L. Xu, Z. L. Chen, L. J. Spicer and T. Feng

N-carbamylglutamate (NCG) and arginine (ARG) supplementation can increase litter size in pigs and rats, but their effects on gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion are unknown. We found that NCG and ARG can increase cell numbers and decrease GnRH secretion in murine immortalized GT1-7 cells in vitro by regulating related gene expression. These findings help us to better understand nutritional control of reproduction.

Published online 03 November 2017

RD17354Profilin 1 plays feedback role in actin-mediated polar body extrusion in mouse oocytes

Jun Liu, Qiao-Chu Wang, Xing Duan, Xiang-Shun Cui, Nam-Hyung Kim, Yu Zhang and Shao-Chen Sun

The molecules that are involved in actin-based oocyte polar body extrusion are still largely unknown. In the present study we showed that knockdown of Profilin caused aberrant actin distribution, the failure of polar body extrusion and altered the expression of Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) and myosin light chain (MLC) 2. The results indicate that Profilin is related to ROCK–MLC2 for actin assembly in mouse oocytes.

Published online 25 October 2017

RD17251Seminal plasma and cryopreservation alter ram sperm surface carbohydrates and interactions with neutrophils

Taylor Pini, Tamara Leahy and Simon Paul de Graaf

The reason why some spermatozoa reach the site of fertilisation where others fail is not known, but interaction between spermatozoa and the female environment is key. We profiled ‘winner’ and ‘loser’ spermatozoa and found that the sugars on their surface and their susceptibility to immune cell attack differed significantly. This helps to explain both normal reproductive physiology and the consequences of human intervention.

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