[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Successful early folliculogenesis is crucial for female reproductive function. It requires appropriate gene specific expression of the different types of ovarian cells at different developmental stages. To date, most gene expression studies on the ovary were conducted in rodents and did not distinguish the type of cell. In mono-ovulating species, few studies have addressed gene expression profiles and mainly concerned human oocytes.
We used a laser capture microdissection method combined with RNA-seq technology to explore the transcriptome in oocytes and granulosa cells (GCs) during development of the sheep ovarian follicle. We first documented the expression profile of 15 349 genes, then focused on the 5 129 genes showing differential expression between oocytes and GCs. Enriched functional categories such as oocyte meiotic arrest and GC steroid synthesis reflect two distinct cell fates. We identified the implication of GC signal transduction pathways such as SHH, WNT and RHO GTPase. In addition, signaling pathways (VEGF, NOTCH, IGF1, etc.) and GC transzonal projections suggest the existence of complex cell-cell interactions. Finally, we highlighted several transcription regulators and specifically expressed genes that likely play an important role in early folliculogenesis.
To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive exploration of transcriptomes derived from in vivo oocytes and GCs at key stages in early follicular development in sheep. Collectively, our data advance our understanding of early folliculogenesis in mono-ovulating species and will be a valuable resource for unraveling human ovarian dysfunction such as premature ovarian failure (POF).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alterations to the metabolic environment in utero can impact subsequent female reproductive performance. Here, we used a model of rabbits receiving a high fat diet (H diet) (7.7% fat and 0.2% cholesterol) or a
control diet (C diet) (1.8% fat, no cholesterol) from 10 weeks of age up to mating at 27 weeks and throughout gestation and lactation. At weaning at 5 weeks of age, F1 female offspring were placed on either C or H diet,
resulting in a total of 4 groups C/C, C/H, H/C and H/H diet. Female offspring were mated between 18 and 22 weeks of age and euthanized at 28 days of gestation. A few days before mating and/or just before euthanasia, F1 females were fasted overnight, weighed and blood sampled for steroids and biochemistry. Organs were weighed at euthanasia and ovaries were collected. C/H and H/H F1 offspring had higher cholesterol and HDL plasma concentrations, together with a higher fat mass compared to C/C does, reflecting the effect of the postnatal diet, but no effect of the antenatal diet was observed on most parameters. The number of primordial, primary and secondary follicles were not different between groups but a significantly higher number of atretic follicles was observed in the C/H (P<0.001) and in the H/C (P<0.001) compared to control C/C ovaries, demonstrating both an effect of pre- and post-natal maternal nutrition. These data indicated that both maternal and post-natal high fat diet may induce follicular apoptosis but in this model the reproduction was not affected.
Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease 12/2013; DOI:10.1017/S2040174414000014 · 0.77 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Exposure of female fetuses to environmental chemicals (ECs) during pregnancy results in a disturbed ovarian adult phenotype. We investigated the influence of pre- and/or post-conception exposure to low-level mixtures of ECs on the structure and function of the fetal ovine ovary. We examined ovarian morphology, expression of oocyte and granulosa cell-specific genes and proteome. Female fetuses were collected at day 110 of gestation, from dams exposed continuously until, and after mating, by grazing in pastures treated with sewage sludge as a fertiliser (TT) or in control fields treated with inorganic fertiliser (CC). In addition, in a cross-over design, fetal ovaries were collected from dams maintained on sludge pastures up to the time of mating but then transferred to control pastures (TC) and, reciprocally, those transferred from control to treated pastures at mating (CT). On examination, the proportion of type 1a follicles (activating primordial follicles) was significantly lower in animals from the CT groups compared with CC and TT groups (P<0.05). Of the 23 ovarian gene transcripts studied, 14 were altered in the ovaries of exposed fetuses (CT, TC, and TT) relative to controls, with the largest number of changes observed in cross-exposure pattern groups (CT or TC). Continuous EC exposure (TT) produced fewer transcript alterations and only two genes (INHBA and GSN) presented differential profiles between CC and TT. Fetal ovarian proteome analysis (2-DE gels) showed, across all exposure groups, 86 differentially expressed protein spots compared to controls. Animals in the CT group exhibited the highest number (53) while TC and TT presented the same number of affected protein spots (42). Fetal ovarian proteins with altered expression included MVP (major vault protein) and several members of the heat-shock family (HSPA4L, HSP90AA1 and HSF1). The present findings indicate that continuous maternal EC exposure before and during gestation, are less deleterious for fetal ovarian development than a change in maternal EC exposure between pre and post-conception. The pathways by which the ovary responds to this chemical stress were common in TT, CT, TC exposed foetuses. In addition to the period of pregnancy, the pre-conception period appears also as crucial for conditioning long-term effects of EC exposure on ovarian development and primordial follicle reserve and hence future fertility.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Excess of fat intake is dramatically increasing in women of childbearing age and results in numerous health complications, including reproductive disorders. Using rabbit does as a biomedical model, the aim of this study was to evaluate onset of puberty, endocrine responses to stimulation and ovarian follicular maturation in females fed a high fat high cholesterol diet (HH diet) from 10 weeks of age (i.e., 2 weeks before normal onset of puberty) or a control diet (C diet).
Three experiments were performed, each including 8 treated (HH group) and 8 control (C group) does. In experiment 1, the endocrine response to Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) was evaluated at 13, 18 and 22 weeks of age. In experiment 2, the follicular population was counted in ovaries of adult females (18 weeks of age). In experiment 3, the LH response to mating and steroid profiles throughout gestation were evaluated at 18 weeks of age. Fetal growth was monitored by ultrasound and offspring birth weight was recorded. Data showed a significantly higher Luteinizing hormone (LH) response after induction of ovulation at 13 weeks of age in the HH group. There was no difference at 18 weeks, but at 22 weeks, the LH response to GnRH was significantly reduced in the HH group. The number of atretic follicles was significantly increased and the number of antral follicles significantly reduced in HH does vs. controls. During gestation, the HH diet induced intra-uterine growth retardation (IUGR).
The HH diet administered from before puberty onwards affected onset of puberty, follicular growth, hormonal responses to breeding and GnRH stimulation in relation to age and lead to fetal IUGR.
PLoS ONE 05/2013; 8(5):e63101. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0063101 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ewes were exposed to sewage sludge-fertilised pastures in a study designed investigate pre-conceptual and/or gestational exposure to environmental chemicals. The in-utero impact on fetal thyroid morphology and function at day 110 (of 145) of pregnancy was then determined. Pre-conceptual exposure increased the relative thyroid organ weights in male fetuses. The number of thyroid follicles in thyroids of fetuses after pre-conceptual or gestational exposure was reduced. This correlated with an increase in Ki67 positive cells. Pre-conceptual exposure to sewage sludge reduced small blood vessels in fetal thyroids. Thyroid tissues of exposed fetuses contained regions where mature angio-follicular units were reduced exhibiting decreased immunostaining for sodium-iodide symporter (NIS). Fetal plasma levels of fT3 and fT4 in exposed animals, however, were not different from controls suggesting compensatory changes in the thyroid gland to maintain homeostasis in exposed fetuses. The regional aberrations in thyroid morphology may impact on the post-natal life of the exposed offspring.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fetal programming of metabolic diseases is now a well established concept. The scope of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease has, however, widened and led to the identification of new targets of fetal programming, notably effects on reproductive function. Epidemiologic studies about maternal nutrition and effects on offspring's fertility are rare, but a link between impaired fetal growth, possibly caused by maternal malnutrition, and reproductive function, has been established. The methodologic limitations inherent to human epidemiologic studies can be complemented through the use of animal models, which enable experimental studies on maternal environment and its effect on reproductive functions of the offspring. Altogether, an interaction between inappropriate maternal nutrition (excess or reduced nutritional intake, micronutrient unbalance, or alcohol intake) and reproductive maturation of the offspring has been shown in a majority of experiments as summarized in this review. The exact processes through which maternal nutrition or maternal environment affect reproductive function in the offspring remain unclear but epigenetic modifications are a clear link. Further studies are needed to better understand the mechanisms involved, identify the crucial critical periods, and prevent or treat the adverse effects.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Exposure to ubiquitous, environmental chemicals (ECs) has been hypothesized as a cause for declining male reproductive health. Understanding the long-term effects of EC exposure on reproductive health in humans requires animal models and exposure to 'real life', environmentally relevant, mixtures during development, a life stage of particular sensitivity to ECs. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of in utero and post-natal exposure to environmentally relevant levels of ECs, via sewage sludge application to pasture, on the adult male sheep testis. Hormones, liver concentrations of candidate ECs and Sertoli and germ cell numbers in testes of adult rams that were exposed to ECs in sewage sludge in utero, and until weaning via maternal exposure, and post-weaning via grazing pastures fertilized with sewage sludge, were quantified. Evaluated as a single group, exposure to sludge ECs was without significant effect on most parameters. However, a more detailed study revealed that 5 of 12 sludge-exposed rams exhibited major spermatogenic abnormalities. These consisted of major reductions in germ cell numbers per testis or per Sertoli cell and more Sertoli cell-only tubules, when compared with controls, which did not show any such changes. The sludge-related spermatogenic changes in the five affected animals were significantly different from controls (p < 0.001); Sertoli cell number was unaffected. Hormone profiles and liver candidate EC concentrations were not measurably affected by exposure. We conclude that developmental exposure of male sheep to real-world mixtures of ECs can result in major reduction in germ cell numbers, indicative of impaired sperm production, in a proportion of exposed males. The individual-specific effects are presumed to reflect EC effects on a heterogeneous population in which some individuals may be more susceptible to adverse EC effects. Such effects of EC exposure in humans could have adverse consequences for sperm counts and fertility in some exposed males.
International Journal of Andrology 12/2011; 35(3):317-29. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2605.2011.01234.x · 3.21 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We had previously reported that the Suppression Subtractive Hybridization (SSH) approach was relevant for the isolation of new mammalian genes involved in oogenesis and early follicle development. Some of these transcripts might be potential new oocyte and granulosa cell markers. We have now characterized one of them, named TOPAZ1 for the Testis and Ovary-specific PAZ domain gene.
Sheep and mouse TOPAZ1 mRNA have 4,803 bp and 4,962 bp open reading frames (20 exons), respectively, and encode putative TOPAZ1 proteins containing 1,600 and 1653 amino acids. They possess PAZ and CCCH domains. In sheep, TOPAZ1 mRNA is preferentially expressed in females during fetal life with a peak during prophase I of meiosis, and in males during adulthood. In the mouse, Topaz1 is a germ cell-specific gene. TOPAZ1 protein is highly conserved in vertebrates and specifically expressed in mouse and sheep gonads. It is localized in the cytoplasm of germ cells from the sheep fetal ovary and mouse adult testis.
We have identified a novel PAZ-domain protein that is abundantly expressed in the gonads during germ cell meiosis. The expression pattern of TOPAZ1, and its high degree of conservation, suggests that it may play an important role in germ cell development. Further characterization of TOPAZ1 may elucidate the mechanisms involved in gametogenesis, and particularly in the RNA silencing process in the germ line.
PLoS ONE 11/2011; 6(11):e26950. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0026950 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over the past 50 years, the ovary development has been subject of fewer studies as compare to the male pathway. Nevertheless due to the advancement of genetics, mouse ES cells and the development of genetic models, studies of ovarian differentiation was boosted. This review emphasizes some of new progresses in the research field of the mammalian ovary differentiation that have occurred in recent years with focuses of the period around prophase I of meiosis and of recent roles of small non-RNAs in the ovarian gene expression.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Successful achievement of early folliculogenesis is crucial for female reproductive function. The process is finely regulated by cell-cell interactions and by the coordinated expression of genes in both the oocyte and in granulosa cells. Despite many studies, little is known about the cell-specific gene expression driving early folliculogenesis. The very small size of these follicles and the mixture of types of follicles within the developing ovary make the experimental study of isolated follicular components very difficult.The recently developed laser capture microdissection (LCM) technique coupled with microarray experiments is a promising way to address the molecular profile of pure cell populations. However, one main challenge was to preserve the RNA quality during the isolation of single cells or groups of cells and also to obtain sufficient amounts of RNA.Using a new LCM method, we describe here the separate expression profiles of oocytes and follicular cells during the first stages of sheep folliculogenesis.
We developed a new tissue fixation protocol ensuring efficient single cell capture and RNA integrity during the microdissection procedure. Enrichment in specific cell types was controlled by qRT-PCR analysis of known genes: six oocyte-specific genes (SOHLH2, MAEL, MATER, VASA, GDF9, BMP15) and three granulosa cell-specific genes (KL, GATA4, AMH).A global gene expression profile for each follicular compartment during early developmental stages was identified here for the first time, using a bovine Affymetrix chip. Most notably, the granulosa cell dataset is unique to date. The comparison of oocyte vs. follicular cell transcriptomes revealed 1050 transcripts specific to the granulosa cell and 759 specific to the oocyte.Functional analyses allowed the characterization of the three main cellular events involved in early folliculogenesis and confirmed the relevance and potential of LCM-derived RNA.
The ovary is a complex mixture of different cell types. Distinct cell populations need therefore to be analyzed for a better understanding of their potential interactions. LCM and microarray analysis allowed us to identify novel gene expression patterns in follicular cells at different stages and in oocyte populations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Early ovarian development has long been thought of as a default pathway switched on passively by the absence of SRY gene. Recent genetic and transcriptomic studies challenge this view and show that two master pathways simultaneously repress male-specific genes and activate female-specific genetic cascades. This antagonistic action is maintained from embryonic stages to adulthood. The differentiation of the ovarian somatic component is regulated by both the forkhead transcription factor FOXL2 (alone or in combination with oestrogens according to the species) and β-catenin pathway activated by Wnt4 and Rspo1. The sex-specific change in the fate of primordial germ cells depends on the gonad environment. Female gonocytes actively proliferate by mitosis then enter meiosis I until the diplotene stage. Primordial follicle formation occurs when oocytes are individually surrounded with pre-granulosa cells. In mammals, the population of primordial follicles serves as a resting and finite pool of oocytes available during the female reproductive life span. Recent data on factors controlling these molecular processes will be presented in this review.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Liver concentrations of selected pollutant classes were determined in groups of sheep fetuses and their dams, at 55 (Experiment 1) and 110 (Experiment 2) days of gestation (term = 145 d) following exposure, throughout their breeding lives and after mating, to pasture treated with either inorganic fertiliser (control, CC) or with sewage sludge (treated, TT). In a unique study designed to separate the respective contributions of environmental sources and mobilised tissue to the available EDC burden, in additional groups of animals, pollutant burdens at 110 days gestation were assessed following exposure to the respective treatments, either throughout their breeding lives until mating, but not thereafter (TC), or only between mating and slaughter (CT) (Experiment 3). With very few exceptions, maternal and fetal liver concentrations of diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and selected polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were not significantly affected by sludge exposure in any group. In some cases, maternal and fetal tissue EDC concentrations were different but the differences were not consistent, and maternal and fetal concentrations of none of the classes of chemical were significantly correlated. It was not possible to identify a single chemical, or class of chemical, that may be responsible for previously observed physiological effects of exposure to sludge-treated pastures. It is concluded that exposure of sheep to pastures fertilised with sewage sludge was not associated with increased liver concentrations of EDCs, irrespective of the stage of development at which they were measured and of maternal tissue mobilisation and EDC release during gestation. Thus, retrospective measurements of EDC tissue burdens could not be used to accurately assess earlier fetal EDC insults.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic pollutants comprise a wide range of synthetic organic compounds and heavy metals, which are dispersed throughout the environment, usually at low concentrations. Exposure of ruminants, as for all other animals, is unavoidable and while the levels of exposure to most chemicals are usually too low to induce any physiological effects, combinations of pollutants can act additively or synergistically to perturb multiple physiological systems at all ages but particularly in the developing foetus. In sheep, organs affected by pollutant exposure include the ovary, testis, hypothalamus and pituitary gland and bone. Reported effects of exposure include changes in organ weight and gross structure, histology and gene and protein expression but these changes are not reflected in changes in reproductive performance under the conditions tested. These results illustrate the complexity of the effects of endocrine disrupting compounds on the reproductive axis, which make it difficult to extrapolate between, or even within, species. Effects of pollutant exposure on the thyroid gland, immune, cardiovascular and obesogenic systems have not been shown explicitly, in ruminants, but work on other species suggests that these systems can also be perturbed. It is concluded that exposure to a mixture of anthropogenic pollutants has significant effects on a wide variety of physiological systems, including the reproductive system. Although this physiological insult has not yet been shown to lead to a reduction in ruminant gross performance, there are already reports indicating that anthropogenic pollutant exposure can compromise several physiological systems and may pose a significant threat to both reproductive performance and welfare in the longer term. At present, many potential mechanisms of action for individual chemicals have been identified but knowledge of factors affecting the rate of tissue exposure and of the effects of combinations of chemicals on physiological systems is poor. Nevertheless, both are vital for the identification of risks to animal productivity and welfare.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) 1 is a vertebrate metalloproteinase of the astacin family. BMP1 plays a key role in regulating the formation of the extracellular matrix (ECM), particularly by processing the C-propeptide of fibrillar procollagens. BMP1 also promotes BMP signaling by releasing BMP signaling molecules from complexes with the BMP-antagonist chordin. As a result of BMP1's dual role in both ECM formation and BMP signaling, we hypothesized that BMP1 could play a role in ovarian physiology. Using the sheep ovary as a model system, we showed that BMP1 was expressed in the ovary throughout early fetal stages to adulthood. Furthermore, in adult ovaries, BMP1 was expressed along with chordin, BMP4, and twisted gastrulation, which together form an extracellular regulatory complex for BMP signaling. Within ovine ovaries, immunohistochemical localization demonstrated that BMP1 was present in granulosa cells at all stages of follicular development, from primordial to large antral follicles, and that the levels of BMP1 were not affected by the final follicle selection mechanism. In cultured granulosa cells, BMP1 expression was not affected by gonadotropins, but BMP4 and activin A had opposing effects on the levels of BMP1 mRNA. BMP1 appeared to be secreted into the follicular fluid of antral follicles, where it is able to exert procollagen C-proteinase and chordinase activities. Interestingly, BMP1 activity in follicular fluid decreased with follicular growth.
Biology of Reproduction 03/2010; 83(1):138-46. DOI:10.1095/biolreprod.109.082115 · 3.45 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Animals and humans are chronically exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that are ubiquitous in the environment. There are strong circumstantial links between environmental EDC exposure and both declining human/wildlife reproductive health and the increasing incidence of reproductive system abnormalities. The verification of such links, however, is difficult and requires animal models exposed to 'real life', environmentally relevant concentrations/mixtures of environmental contaminants (ECs), particularly in utero, when sensitivity to EC exposure is high. The present study aimed to determine whether the foetal sheep reproductive neuroendocrine axis, particularly gondotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and galaninergic systems, were affected by maternal exposure to a complex mixture of chemicals, applied to pasture, in the form of sewage sludge. Sewage sludge contains high concentrations of a spectrum of EDCs and other pollutants, relative to environmental concentrations, but is frequently recycled to land as a fertiliser. We found that foetuses exposed to the EDC mixture in utero through their mothers had lower GnRH mRNA expression in the hypothalamus and lower GnRH receptor (GnRHR) and galanin receptor (GALR) mRNA expression in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Strikingly, this, treatment had no significant effect on maternal GnRH or GnRHR mRNA expression, although GALR mRNA expression within the maternal hypothalamus and pituitary gland was reduced. The present study clearly demonstrates that the developing foetal neuroendocrine axis is sensitive to real-world mixtures of environmental chemicals. Given the important role of GnRH and GnRHR in the regulation of reproductive function, its known role programming role in utero, and the role of galanin in the regulation of many physiological/neuroendocrine systems, in utero changes in the activity of these systems are likely to have long-term consequences in adulthood and represent a novel pathway through which EC mixtures could perturb normal reproductive function.
Journal of Neuroendocrinology 03/2010; 22(6):527-33. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2826.2010.01974.x · 3.51 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ubiquitous environmental chemicals, including endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), are associated with declining human reproductive health, as well as an increasing incidence of cancers of the reproductive system. Verifying such links requires animal models exposed to "real-life," environmentally relevant concentrations/mixtures of EDC, particularly in utero, when sensitivity to EDC exposure is maximal.
We evaluated the effects of maternal exposure to a pollutant cocktail (sewage sludge) on the ovine fetal reproductive neuroendocrine axes, particularly the kisspeptin (KiSS-1)/GPR54 (G-protein-coupled receptor 54) system.
KiSS-1, GPR54, and ERalpha (estrogen receptor alpha) mRNA expression was quantified in control (C) and treated (T) maternal and fetal (110-day) hypothalami and pituitary glands using semiquantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, and colocalization of kisspeptin with LHbeta (luteinizing hormone beta) and ERalpha in C and T fetal pituitary glands quantified using dual-labeling immunohistochemistry.
Fetuses exposed in utero to the EDC mixture showed reduced KiSS-1 mRNA expression across three hypothalamic regions examined (rostral, mid, and caudal) and had fewer kisspetin immunopositive cells colocalized with both LHbeta and ERalpha in the pituitary gland. In contrast, treatment had no effect on parameters measured in the adult ewe hypothalamus or pituitary.
This study demonstrates that the developing fetus is sensitive to real-world mixtures of environmental chemicals, which cause significant neuroendocrine alterations. The important role of kisspeptin/GPR54 in regulating puberty and adult reproduction means that in utero disruption of this system is likely to have long-term consequences in adulthood and represents a novel, additional pathway through which environmental chemicals perturb human reproduction.
Environmental Health Perspectives 10/2009; 117(10):1556-62. DOI:10.1289/ehp.0900699 · 7.98 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fifteen percent of couples are infertile and in about 50% of cases the cause is of male origin. The aetiology is still unknown in more than 90% of cases and there may be genetic or environmental causes. Three approaches are used to detect genetic causes for male infertility: 1) cytogenetics, resulting in particular from progress made in molecular cytogenetics and the direct analysis of gametes by in situ molecular hybridation techniques. When a chromosome anomaly, the most common cause of infertility, including deletion of the Y chromosome, is discovered, it is not easy to distinguish between gene anomalies resulting from change and mechanical anomalies that are an integral part of meiosis; 2) the analysis of candidate genes, which often uses data obtained from animal, usually murine, models. This approach, frequently described in the literature, tends to be lengthy, expensive and rarely results in the discovery of an abnormal gene, as is the case, for example, with meiotic genes; 3) Mendel's approach is clearly the preferred choice, studying as it does cases of inherited infertility, which is much more widespread than we might think.