Female reproduction requires the precise temporal organization of interacting, estradiol-sensitive neural circuits that converge to optimally drive hypothalamo-pituitary–gonadal (HPG) axis functioning. In mammals, the master circadian pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the anterior hypothalamus coordinates reproductively relevant neuroendocrine events necessary to maximize reproductive success. Likewise, in species where periods of fertility are brief, circadian oversight of reproductive function ensures that estradiol-dependent increases in sexual motivation coincide with ovulation. Across species, including humans, disruptions to circadian timing (e.g., through rotating shift work, night shift work, poor sleep hygiene) lead to pronounced deficits in ovulation and fecundity. Despite the well-established roles for the circadian system in female reproductive functioning, the specific neural circuits and neurochemical mediators underlying these interactions are not fully understood. Most work to date has focused on the direct and indirect communication from the SCN to the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) system in control of the preovulatory luteinizing hormone (LH) surge. However, the same clock genes underlying circadian rhythms at the cellular level in SCN cells are also common to target cell populations of the SCN, including the GnRH neuronal network. Exploring the means by which the master clock synergizes with subordinate clocks in GnRH cells and its upstream modulatory systems represents an exciting opportunity to further understand the role of endogenous timing systems in female reproduction. Herein we provide an overview of the state of knowledge regarding interactions between the circadian timing system and estradiol-sensitive neural circuits driving GnRH secretion and the preovulatory LH surge.
suprachiasmatic; ovulation; kisspeptin; GnIH; RFRP-3; AVP; VIP
Studies on human fertility genes have identified numerous risk/protective alleles involved in the occurrence of reproductive system diseases causing infertility or subfertility. Investigations we carried out in populations at natural fertility seem to suggest that the clinical relevance that some fertility genes are now acquiring depends on their interaction with contemporary reproductive behaviors (birth control, delayed childbearing, and spacing birth order, among others). In recent years, a new physiological role in human fertility regulation has emerged for the tumor- suppressor p53 gene (P53), and the P53 Arg72Pro polymorphism has been associated with recurrent implantation failure in humans. To lend support to our previous observations, we examined the impact of Arg72Pro polymorphism on fertility in two samples of Italian women not selected for impaired fertility but collected from populations with different (premodern and modern) reproductive behaviors. Among the women at near-natural fertility (n = 98), the P53 genotypes were not associated with different reproductive efficiency, whereas among those with modern reproductive behaviors (n = 68), the P53 genotypes were associated with different mean numbers of children [Pro/Pro = 0.75
Natural, synthetic and environmental estrogens have numerous effects on the development and physiology of mammals. Estrogen is primarily known for its role in the development and functioning of the female reproductive system. However, roles for estrogen in male fertility, bone, the circulatory system and immune system have been established by clinical observations regarding sex differences in pathologies, as well as observations following menopause or castration. The primary mechanism of estrogen action is via binding and modulation of activity of the estrogen receptors (ERs), which are ligand-dependent nuclear transcription factors. ERs are found in highest levels in female tissues critical to reproduction, including the ovaries, uterus, cervix, mammary glands and pituitary gland. Since other affected tissues have extremely low levels of ER, indirect effects of estrogen, for example induction of pituitary hormones that affect the bone, have been proposed. The development of transgenic mouse models that lack either estrogen or ER have proven to be valuable tools in defining the mechanisms by which estrogen exerts its effects in various systems. The aim of this article is to review the mouse models with disrupted estrogen signaling and describe the associated phenotypes.
estrogen receptor; estrogen receptor knockout; transgenic
In the last 30 years, remarkable progress has been made in our understanding of the biological role of endothelins in the regulation of reproductive function and fertility. A peptide hormone identified for its ability to regulate blood pressure has now been shown as a potent mediator of several reproductive pathways. Ligand- and receptor-specific roles have been identified and/or postulated during follicular development and ovulation as well as in the function and regression of the corpus luteum. In this review we have attempted to organize endothelin-mediated ovarian processes in a process-specific manner, rather than compile a review of ligand- or isoform-specific actions. Further, we have included a discussion on “post-ovarian” or oviductal function, as well as the future directions that we believe will increase our understanding of endothelin biology as a whole.
Endothelin; ovary; oviduct; ovulation; follicle; corpus luteum
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and dibenzofurans (PCDFs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polybrominated ethers (PBDEs), chloronaftalens (PCNs), and bisphenol A (BPA), are stable, lipophilic pollutants that affect fertility and cause serious reproductive problems, including ovotoxic action, lack of ovulation, premature ovarian failure (POF), or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Most of the representatives of POPs influence the activation of transcription factors, not only activation of aromatic hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), but also the steroid hormone receptors. This minireview will focus on a variety of PAH activities in oocyte, ovary, placenta, and mammary gland. The complexity and diversity of factors belonging to POPs and disorders of the reproductive function of women indicate that the impact of environmental pollution as an important determinant factor in fertility should not be minimize.
Hypertension is a well established risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and is the leading cause of chronic kidney failure. Although a number of pharmacologic agents are available for the treatment of hypertension including agents that affect the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), unmet needs in the treatment of hypertension suggest that identification of novel pharmacological targets would be an important healthcare goal. One potential target is prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a potent lipid mediator with a diverse and sometimes opposing range of biological effects. PGE2 signals through four subtypes of G-protein coupled receptors designated EP1 through EP4. PGE2 functions primarily as a vasodepressor; under certain conditions PGE2 administration mediates vasopressor activity. This review focuses on the current understanding of the roles of PGE2 receptors in vascular reactivity, hypertension and end-organ damage.
Prostaglandin E2; hypertension; GPCR; mouse; rat
In recent years, many studies have emphasized how changes in aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR)-mediated gene expression result in biological effects, raising interest in this receptor as a regulator of normal biological function. This review focuses on what is known about the role of the AHR in the female reproductive system, which includes the ovaries, fallopian tubes or oviduct, uterus and vagina. This review also focuses on the role of the AHR in reproductive outcomes such as cyclicity, senescence, and fertility. Specifically, studies using potent AHR ligands, as well as transgenic mice lacking the AHR signaling pathway are discussed from a viewpoint of understanding the endogenous role of this ligand-activated transcription factor in the female reproductive lifespan. Based on findings highlighted in this paper, it is proposed that the AHR has a role in physiological functions including ovarian function, establishment of an optimum environment for fertilization, nourishing the embryo and maintaining pregnancy, as well as in regulating reproductive lifespan and fertility. The mechanisms by which the AHR regulates female reproduction are poorly understood, but it is anticipated that new models and the ability to generate specific gene deletions will provide powerful experimental tools for better understanding how alterations in AHR pathways result in functional changes in the female reproductive system.
aryl hydrocarbon receptor; ovary; uterus; vagina; oviduct; female reproduction
Prostaglandins are important regulators of female reproductive functions to which aldose reductases exhibiting hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity also contribute. Our work on the regulation of reproductive function by prostaglandins (PGs), lead us to the discovery that AKR1B5 and later AKR1B1were highly efficient and physiologically relevant PGF synthases. PGE2 and PGF2α are the main prostanoids produced in the human endometrium and proper balance in their relative production is important for normal menstruation and optimal fertility. Recent evidence suggests that PGE2/EP2 and PGF2α/FP may constitute a functional dyad with physiological relevance comparable to the prostacyclin-thromboxane dyad in the vascular system. We have recently reported that AKR1B1 was expressed and modulated in association with PGF2α production in response to IL-1β in the human endometrium. In the present study, we show that the human AKR1B1 (gene ID: 231) also known as ALDR1 or ALR2 is a functional PGF2α synthase in different models of living cells and tissues. Using human endometrial cells, prostate, and vascular smooth muscle cells, cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells we demonstrate that IL-1β is able to up regulate COX-2 and AKR1B1 proteins as well as PGF2α production under normal glucose concentrations. We show that the promoter activity of AKR1B1 gene is increased by IL-1β particularly around the multiple stress response region containing two putative antioxidant response elements adjacent to TonE and AP1. We also show that AKR1B1 is able to regulate PGE2 production through PGF2α acting on its FP receptor and that aldose reductase inhibitors like alrestatin, Statil (ponalrestat), and EBPC exhibit distinct and characteristic inhibition of PGF2α production in different cell models. The PGF synthase activity of AKR1B1 represents a new and important target to regulate ischemic and inflammatory responses associated with several human pathologies.
prostaglandins; biosynthesis; regulation; endometrium; menstrual cycle
Prostaglandins (PGs), a group of key lipid mediators, are involved in numerous physiological and pathological processes including inflammation and cardiovascular homeostasis. Each PG acts on its specific and distinct cell surface G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) or peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs). Prostaglandin F2α receptor (FP) is required for female reproductive function such as luteolysis and parturition. It has recently been implicated in blood pressure regulation, atherosclerosis and other inflammation-related disorders. The emerging role of FP in cardiovascular diseases is highlighted and potential therapeutic translation is discussed in the current review.
prostaglandin F2alpha; hypertension; atherosclerosis; FP receptor
A number of studies have identified cytosolic prostaglandin E2 synthase (cPGES)/p23 as a cytoplasmic protein capable of metabolism of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) from the cyclooxygenase metabolite prostaglandin endoperoxide (PGH2). However, this protein has also been implicated in a number of other pathways, including stabilization of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) complex. To define the importance of the functions assigned to this protein, mice lacking detectible cPGES/p23 expression were generated. cPGES/p23−/− pups die during the perinatal period and display retarded lung development reminiscent of the phenotype of GR-deficient neonates. Furthermore, GR-sensitive gluconeogenic enzymes are not induced in the prenatal period. However, unlike GR-deficient embryos, cPGES/p23−/− embryos are small and a proliferation defect is observed in cPGES/p23−/− fibroblasts. Analysis of arachidonic acid metabolites in embryonic tissues and primary fibroblasts failed to support a function for this protein in PGE2 biosynthesis. Thus, while the growth retardation of the cPGES/p23−/− pups and decreased proliferation of primary fibroblasts identify functions for this protein in addition to GR stabilization, it is unlikely that these functions include metabolism of PGH2 to PGE2.
Prostanoids, bioactive lipids derived from arachidonic acid (AA), are important for vascular homeostasis. Among them, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) enhances aggregation of platelets submaximally stimulated in vitro. This results from activation of EP3, one of the four PGE2 receptors, which decreases the threshold at which agonists activate platelets to aggregate. Although PGE2 altered venous thrombosis induced by administration of AA, its role in pathophysiopathological conditions has remained speculative. We report that arterial walls subjected to inflammatory stimuli produce PGE2. In several models, we show that PGE2 produced by the arterial wall facilitates arterial thrombosis. Next, we detected PGE2 in mouse atherosclerotic plaques. We demonstrate that this plaque-produced PGE2 is not altered and is still able to activate EP3. In addition, we present evidence that PGE2 can leave the plaque and activate EP3 on blood platelets. Consistent with these findings, we observed that atherothrombosis induced in vivo by mechanical rupture of the plaque was drastically decreased when platelets lacked EP3. In conclusion, PGE2 facilitates the initiation of arterial thrombosis and, hence, contributes to atherothrombosis. Inhibition of the platelet EP3 receptor should improve prevention of atherothrombosis.
Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) is a bioactive lipid that elicits a wide range of biological effects associated with inflammation and cancer. PGE2 exerts diverse effects on cell proliferation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, inflammation and immune surveillance. This review concentrates primarily on gastrointestinal cancers, where the actions of PGE2 are most prominent, most likely due to the constant exposure to dietary and environmental insults and the intrinsic role of PGE2 in tissue homeostasis. A discussion of recent efforts to elucidate the complex and interconnected pathways that link PGE2 signaling with inflammation and cancer is provided, supported by the abundant literature showing a protective effect of NSAIDs and the therapeutic efficacy of targeting mPGES-1 or EP receptors for cancer prevention. However, suppressing PGE2 formation as a means of providing chemoprotection against all cancers may not ultimately be tenable, undoubtedly the situation for patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Future studies to fully understand the complex role of PGE2 in both inflammation and cancer will be required to develop novel strategies for cancer prevention that are both effective and safe.
PGE2; inflammation; gastrointestinal cancer; NSAIDs; COX-2; mPGES-1
The angiotensin subtype-1 (AT1) receptor mediates renal prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production, and pharmacological blockade of the angiotensin subtype-2 (AT2) receptor potentiates the action of angiotensin II (Ang II) to increase PGE2 levels. We investigated the role of the AT2 receptor in prostaglandin metabolism in mice with targeted deletion of the AT2 receptor gene. Mice lacking the AT2 receptor (AT2-null) had normal blood pressure that was slightly elevated compared with that of wild-type (WT) control mice. AT2-null mice had higher renal interstitial fluid (RIF) 6-keto-PGF1α (a stable hydrolysis product of prostacyclin [PGI2]) and PGE2 levels than did WT mice, and had similar increases in PGE2 and 6-keto-PGF1α in response to dietary sodium restriction and Ang II infusion. In contrast, AT2-null mice had lower PGF2α levels compared with WT mice during basal conditions and in response to dietary sodium restriction or infusion of Ang II. RIF cAMP was markedly higher in AT2-null mice than in WT mice, both during basal conditions and during sodium restriction or Ang II infusion. AT1 receptor blockade with losartan decreased PGE2, PGI2, and cAMP to levels observed in WT mice. To determine whether increased vasodilator prostanoids prevented hypertension in AT2-null mice, we treated AT2-null and WT mice with indomethacin for 14 days. PGI2, PGE2, and cAMP were markedly decreased in both WT and AT2-null mice. Blood pressure increased to hypertensive levels in AT2-null mice but was unchanged in WT. These results demonstrate that in the absence of the AT2 receptor, increased vasodilator prostanoids protect against the development of hypertension.
Prostanoids, consisting of prostaglandins (PGs) and thromboxanes (TXs), are oxygenated products of C20 unsaturated fatty acids. They include PGD2, PGE2, PGF2α, PGI2, and TXA2. Given that aspirin-like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs exert their actions by suppressing prostanoid production, prostanoids have been implicated in processes inhibited by these drugs, including inflammation, fever, and pain. Prostanoids also contribute to vascular homeostasis, reproduction, and regulation of kidney and gastrointestinal functions. How prostanoids exert such a variety of actions had remained unclear, however. Prostanoids are released outside of cells immediately after their synthesis and exert their actions by binding to receptors on target cells. We have identified a family of eight types or subtypes of G protein–coupled receptors that mediate prostanoid actions. Another G protein–coupled receptor was also identified as an additional receptor for PGD2. Genes for these receptors have been individually disrupted in mice, and analyses of these knockout mice have not only elucidated the molecular and cellular mechanisms of known prostanoid actions but also revealed previously unknown actions. In this article, I review the physiological and pathophysiological roles of prostanoids and their receptors revealed by these studies.
prostaglandin; thromboxane; cyclooxygenase; G protein–coupled receptor