The initiation of primordial follicle development is essential for female fertility, but the signals that trigger this process are poorly understood. Given the potentially important roles of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the ovary, we aimed to study the expression patterns and regulatory functions of miRNAs during the initiation of primordial follicle development. Expression patterns of miRNA in the neonatal mouse ovary were profiled by microarray, and 24 miRNAs whose abundances differed significantly between ovaries from 3- and 5-day-old mice were identified. Pathway enrichment analysis revealed that 48 signal transduction pathways are modulated by the up-regulated miRNAs and 29 pathways are modulated by the down-regulated miRNAs (P-value and false discovery rate < 0.001). A miRNA-mRNA regulatory network was established for TGF-beta signaling pathway-related genes. Among the miRNAs involved in this pathway, miR-145 was chosen for further analysis. Down-regulation of miR-145 using an antagomir (AT) decreased the proportion and number of the primordial follicles and increased that of the growing follicles in the cultured ovaries (P < 0.05). The mean oocyte diameter in the primordial follicles was significantly greater in the AT group relative to the AT-negative control group (P < 0.05), whereas the mean oocyte diameter in growing follicles was smaller in the AT group than in the AT-negative control group. In addition, we confirmed that miR-145 targets Tgfbr2. The miR-145 AT caused an increase in TGFBR2 expression and activation of Smad signaling but did not affect the p38 MAPK or JNK pathway. These data suggest that miRNAs and the signaling pathways they modulate are involved in the initiation of primordial follicle development, and miR-145 targets Tgfbr2 to regulate the initiation of primordial follicle development and maintain primordial follicle quiescence.
Ovarian aging is a long-term and complex process associated with a decrease in follicular quantity and quality. The damaging effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in ovarian aging and ovarian aging-associated disorders have received relatively little attention. Thus, we assessed if the oxidative stress induced by long-term (defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as at least 30 days in duration) moderate ozone inhalation reduced ovarian reserves, decreased ovarian function and induced ovarian aging-associated disorders. The expression of oxidative stress markers and antioxidant enzymes was used to determine the degree of oxidative stress. Ultrastructural changes in ovarian cells were examined via electron microscopy. The ovarian reserve was assessed by measuring multiple parameters, such as the size of the primordial follicle pool and anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) expression. The estrous cycle, hormone levels and fertility status were investigated to assess ovarian function. To investigate ovarian aging-associated disorders, we utilized bone density and cardiovascular ultrasonography in mice. The levels of oxidized metabolites, such as 8-hydroxy-2´-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) and nitrotyrosine (NTY), significantly increased in ovarian cells in response to increased oxidative stress. The ultrastructural analysis indicated that lipid droplet formation and the proportion of mitochondria with damaged membranes in granulosa cells were markedly increased in ozone-exposed mice when compared with the control group. Ozone exposure did not change the size of the primordial follicle pool or anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) expression. The estrogen concentration remained normal; however, progesterone and testosterone levels decreased. The mice exposed to ozone inhalation exhibited a substantial decrease in fertility and fecundity. No differences were revealed by the bone density or cardiovascular ultrasounds. These findings suggest that the decreased female reproductive function caused by long-term moderate oxidative damage may be due to a decrease in follicle quality and progesterone production.
Peroxiredoxin 2 (PRDX2) has been known to act as an antioxidant enzyme whose main function is H(2)O(2) reduction in cells. We aimed to study the expression patterns of PRDX2 in mouse ovaries and explore the function of this protein in apoptosis of granulosa cells (GCs). We found that the expression of the PRDX2 protein in atretic follicle GCs was markedly higher than in healthy follicle GCs. In vitro, the transfection of siRNA targeting the Prdx2 gene inhibited the proliferation and induced the apoptosis of primary cultured GCs. Furthermore, suppression of PRDX2 resulted in the augmentation of endogenous H(2)O(2), and the ability to eliminate the exogenous H(2)O(2) was attenuated. The expression of PRDX2 and nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NFKB), whose activity was inhibited by binding to IKB, increased in GCs treated with various concentrations of H(2)O(2) for 30 min. However, no significant change in cytoplasmic IKB expression was observed. At 2 h after treatment with H(2)O(2), nuclear NFKB expression level was reduced, cytoplasmic IKB expression was increased, and PRDX2 expression was unchanged. Silencing of the Prdx2 gene caused early changes in NFKB and IKB expression in the primary cultured GCs compared to that in control cells. Taken together, these data suggest that PRDX2 plays an important role in inhibiting apoptosis in GCs and that PRDX2 actions may be related to the expression of NFKB and IKB.
B and T lymphocyte attenuator (BTLA)-herpesvirus entry mediator (HVEM) signaling coinhibitory pathway is believed to impair antitumor immune competences. An intriguing unresolved question is whether blockade of BTLA-HVEM guides an effective therapeutic tool against established tumors. To address this issue, we constructed a eukaryotic expression plasmid (psBTLA) that expressed the extracellular domain of murine BTLA (soluble form of BTLA), which could bind HVEM, the ligand of BTLA, and block BTLA-HVEM interactions. The data in this study showed that treatment by injection of psBTLA resulted in down-regulation of IL-10 and TGF-β and promotion of dendritic cell function by increasing the expression of B7-1 and IL-12, but the adaptive antitumor immune responses achieved by psBTLA administration alone were limited and could not eradicate the tumor effectively. Next, we evaluated the immunotherapeutic efficacy and mechanism of combination therapy of heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) vaccine/psBTLA by using murine TC-1 cervical cancer mice as an ectopic tumor model. Our in vivo studies revealed that treatment with HSP70 vaccine alone did not lead to satisfactory tumor growth inhibition, whereas cotreatment with psBTLA significantly improved antitumor immunity and compensated the deficiency of HSP70 vaccine by increasing the expression of Th1 cytokines, IL-2, and IFN-γ and decreasing transcription levels of IL-10, TGF-β, and Foxp3 in the tumor microenvironment. Taken together, our findings indicate that blocking the BTLA-HVEM interaction with sBTLA enhances antitumor efficacy and results in a significant synergistic effect against existent tumor cells in vivo when combined with the HSP70 vaccine.
Theca-interstitial cells (TICs) and granulosa cells (GCs) are important components of follicles that support follicle development and hormone secretion, and are considered to be important cell models for basic research. However, no method currently exists for simultaneously isolating TICs and GCs from a single ovary of the immature mouse. Here, we sought to develop such a protocol using mechanical dissection combined with brief collagenase-DNase digestion. Morphological characteristics and molecular markers were detected to identify TICs and GCs. In isolated TICs, cholesterol side chain cleavage cytochrome P450 (P450scc) was expressed abundantly, but anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) was expressed only at very low levels. This expression profile was reversed in GCs. In addition, TICs secreted large amounts of testosterone (T) and minimal amounts of estradiol (E2 ), while the converse was found in GCs. T concentrations rose gradually in TIC culture media as the concentration of added luteinizing hormone (LH) was increased. In GCs, E2 secretion increased as the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) concentration increased. Thus, mechanical dissection combined with collagenase-DNase digestion is a simple, effective and reproducible method for obtaining large numbers of highly purified and hormonally stimulated TICs and GCs from one ovary.
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