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
Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) has multiple physiologic roles mediated by G protein coupled receptors designated E-prostanoid, or "EP" receptors. Evidence supports an important role for the EP2 receptor in regulating fertility, vascular tone and renal function.
The full-length rabbit EP2 receptor cDNA was cloned. The encoded polypeptide contains 361 amino acid residues with seven hydrophobic domains. COS-1 cells expressing the cloned rabbit EP2 exhibited specific [3H]PGE2 binding with a Kd of 19.1± 1.7 nM. [3H]PGE2 was displaced by unlabeled ligands in the following order: PGE2>>PGD2=PGF2α=iloprost. Binding of [3H]PGE2 was also displaced by EP receptor subtype selective agonists with a rank order of affinity consistent with the EP2 receptor (butaprost>AH13205>misoprostol>sulprostone). Butaprost free acid produced a concentration-dependent increase in cAMP accumulation in rabbit EP2 transfected COS-1 cells with a half-maximal effective concentration of 480 nM. RNase protection assay revealed high expression in the ileum, spleen, and liver with lower expression in the kidney, lung, heart, uterus, adrenal gland and skeletal muscle. In situ hybridization localized EP2 mRNA to the uterine endometrium, but showed no distinct localization in the kidney. EP2 mRNA expression along the nephron was determined by RT-PCR and its expression was present in glomeruli, MCD, tDL and CCD. In cultured cells EP2 receptor was not detected in collecting ducts but was detected in renal interstitial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells. EP2 mRNA was also detected in arteries, veins, and preglomerular vessels of the kidney.
EP2 expression pattern is consistent with the known functional roles for cAMP coupled PGE2 effects in reproductive and vascular tissues and renal interstitial cells. It remains uncertain whether it is also expressed in renal tubules.
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
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
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.
The chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor II, COUP-TFII, is a member of the Orphan nuclear receptor transcription factor family. Genetic ablation of COUP-TFII results in early embryonic lethality and demonstrates that this gene is required for cardiac and vascular development. Expression of COUP-TFII persists throughout postnatal life in various tissues including the female reproductive tract. However, the physiological function of COUP-TFII in female reproduction has not been extensively analyzed. Here, we provide phenotypic evidences that haploinsufficiency of COUP-TFII in mice demonstrates an important role of COUP-TFII for normal female reproduction. COUP-TFII +/− females show significantly reduced fecundity, irregular estrus cycles, delayed puberty and retarded postnatal growth. Analysis of the reduced fertility revealed that although ovarian function was normal with respect to ovulation, the ovaries have reduced ability to synthesize progesterone in response to exogenous gonadotropins. This reduction is due to the reduction of the expression of steroidogenic enzymes important for P4 synthesis and the reduction of vascularization in COUP-TFII heterozygotes. Analysis of uterine function demonstrated a reduced response to an experimentally induced decidual cell reaction indicating that the ability of the uterus to support embryo implantation was reduced. Taken together, our data shows global impact of gene dosage effects of COUP-TFII on female postnatal life and indicates requirement of COUP-TFII in normal female reproduction, in particular for uterine endometrial functions during the peri-implantation period.
To characterize periovulatory events, reproductive tracts were collected at 12 hr intervals from captive-bred, short-tailed fruit bats, Carollia perspicillata, on days 1-3 post coitum and examined histologically. Most bats bred readily. Graafian follicles developed large antra and exhibited preovulatory expansion of the cumulus oophorus. Ovulation had occurred in some on the morning, and in most by the evening, of day 1. The single ovum was released as a secondary oocyte and fertilized in the oviductal ampulla. Ovulated secondary oocytes were loosely associated with their cumulus cells, which were lost around the initiation of fertilization. Supernumerary spermatozoa were occasionally noted attached to the zonae pellucidae of oviductal ova, but never within the perivitelline space. By day 2, most ova had reached the pronuclear stage and by day 3, early cleavage stages. Several lines of evidence indicate that C. perspicillata is a spontaneous ovulator with a functional luteal phase. Most newly-mated females had recently-formed, but regressing corpora lutea, and thickened (albeit menstrual) uteri despite having been housed with males only for brief periods (< 23 days). Menstruation is usually periovulatory in this species. Furthermore, the interval between successive estrus periods in most mated females that failed to establish ongoing pregnancies at the first was 21 – 27 days. Menstruation involved substantial endometrial desquamation, plus associated bleeding, and generally extended to the evening of day 3, the last time point studied. In nearly all females with a recent corpus luteum (n=24/25; 96%), the preovulatory or newly-ruptured follicle was in the opposite ovary.
ovulation; ovum maturation; fertilization; early embryology; menstruation; uterus
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.
Many women are affected by infertility and reproductive-associated disease such as endometriosis or endometrial cancer. Successful pregnancy is dependent on a healthy uterus that is fit to receive and support a fertilized embryo. The uterus is an endocrine organ, responsive to the presence of the ovarian steroid hormones, estrogen and progesterone, which activate transcription of target genes through the binding of their cognate receptors, the estrogen receptor and the progesterone receptor. Progesterone signaling has been demonstrated to be critical for the initiation and continuance of pregnancy. Through the induction of Ihh, Wnt, and Bmp pathways within the epithelial and stromal compartments of the uterus, embryo attachment and implantation occur followed by decidualization of the surrounding stroma. Furthermore, these pathways have been shown to be involved in uterine glandular development. This review highlights the integral role of uterine progesterone-mediated paracrine signaling in gland development and pregnancy.
Progesterone; Progesterone receptor; Implantation; Paracrine signaling; Mouse models
Previous work has identified Indian hedgehog (Ihh) as a major mediator of progesterone signaling during embryo implantation. Ihh acts through its downstream effector smoothened (Smo) to activate the GLI family of transcription factors. In order to gain a better understanding of Ihh action during embryo implantation, we expressed a Cre-recombinase-dependent constitutively activated SMO in the murine uterus using the Pgrtm2(cre)Lyd (PRcre) mouse model [Pgrtm2(cre)Lyd+Gt(ROSA)26Sortm1(Smo/EYFP)Amc+ (PRcre/+SmoM2+)]. Female PRcre/+SmoM2+ mice were infertile. They exhibited normal serum progesterone levels and normal ovulation, but their ova failed to be fertilized in vivo and their uterus failed to undergo the artificially induced decidual response. Examination of the PRcre/+SmoM2+ uteri revealed numerous features such as uterine hypertrophy, the presence of a stratified luminal epithelial cell layer, a reduced number of uterine glands, and an endometrial stroma that had lost its normal morphologic characteristics. Microarray analysis of 3-mo-old PRcre/+SmoM2+ uteri demonstrated a chondrocytic signature and confirmed that constitutive activation of PRcre/+SmoM2+ increased extracellular matrix production. Thus, constitutive activation of Smo in the mouse uterus alters postnatal uterine differentiation which interferes with early pregnancy. These results provide new insight into the role of Hedgehog signaling during embryo implantation.
Activation of smoothened in the mouse uterus reveals a requirement for the precise regulation of hedgehog signaling during early pregnancy and postnatal uterine development.
differentiation; implantation; mouse; smoothened; uterus
The lipid mediator prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) has diverse biological activity in a variety of tissues. Four different receptor subtypes (EP1–4) mediate these wide-ranging effects. The EP-receptor subtypes differ in tissue distribution, ligand-binding affinity, and coupling to intracellular signaling pathways. To identify the physiological roles for one of these receptors, the EP1 receptor, we generated EP1-deficient (EP1–/–) mice using homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells derived from the DBA/1lacJ strain of mice. The EP1–/– mice are healthy and fertile, without any overt physical defects. However, their pain-sensitivity responses, tested in two acute prostaglandin-dependent models, were reduced by approximately 50%. This reduction in the perception of pain was virtually identical to that achieved through pharmacological inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis in wild-type mice using a cyclooxygenase inhibitor. In addition, systolic blood pressure is significantly reduced in EP1 receptor–deficient mice and accompanied by increased renin-angiotensin activity, especially in males, suggesting a role for this receptor in cardiovascular homeostasis. Thus, the EP1 receptor for PGE2 plays a direct role in mediating algesia and in regulation of blood pressure.
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
Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) is produced in the skin and is suggested to play a role in the regulation of cutaneous immune homeostasis and responses. However, the multifaceted functions of PGE2 continue to elude our understanding, especially because of the multiplicity of PGE2 receptors—EP1, EP2, EP3, and EP4. While cAMP-elevating EP4 is known to activate the functions of cutaneous dendritic cells (DCs), including Langerhans cells (LCs) and dermal DCs, the role of cAMP-suppressing EP3 in this process remains unknown. Here we demonstrated that an EP3 receptor selective agonist, ONO-AE-248, inhibited chemotaxis and co-stimulatory molecule expressions of DCs in vitro. A suboptimal dose of antigen was sufficient to induce contact hypersensitivity in EP3-deficient mice. Intriguingly, EP3 deficiency did not impair skin inflammation at all when the antigen dose was sufficiently high. EP3 limited the functions of cutaneous DCs only when the antigen dose was low. In contrast to EP4, the observed unappreciated function of EP3 may stabilize the cutaneous DCs to halt the impetuous response to a suboptimal dose of antigen. Taken together, PGE2-EP3 signaling is essential for fine-tuning excessive skin inflammation by restricting DC functions.
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
Mammalian female fertility depends on complex interactions between the ovary and the extraovarian environment (e.g., the hypothalamic-hypophyseal ovarian axis). The role of plasma lipoproteins in fertility was examined using HDL-receptor SR-BI knockout (KO) mice. SR-BI KO females have abnormal HDLs, ovulate dysfunctional oocytes, and are infertile. Fertility was restored when the structure and/or quantity of abnormal HDL was altered by inactivating the apoAI gene or administering the cholesterol-lowering drug probucol. This suggests that abnormal lipoprotein metabolism can cause murine infertility — implying a functional hepatic-ovarian axis — and may contribute to some forms of human female infertility.
This review presents an overview of the emerging field of prostaglandin signaling in neurological diseases, focusing on PGE2 signaling through its four E-prostanoid (EP) receptors. A large number of studies have demonstrated a neurotoxic function of the inducible cyclooxygenase COX-2 in a broad spectrum of neurological disease models in the central nervous system (CNS), from models of cerebral ischemia to models of neurodegeneration and inflammation. Since COX-1 and COX-2 catalyze the first committed step in prostaglandin synthesis, an effort is underway to identify the downstream prostaglandin signaling pathways that mediate the toxic effect of COX-2. Recent epidemiologic studies demonstrate that chronic COX-2 inhibition can produce adverse cerebrovascular and cardiovascular effects, indicating that some prostaglandin signaling pathways are beneficial. Consistent with this concept, recent studies demonstrate that in the CNS, specific prostaglandin receptor signaling pathways mediate toxic effects in brain but a larger number appear to mediate paradoxically protective effects. Further complexity is emerging, as exemplified by the PGE2 EP2 receptor, where cerebroprotective or toxic effects of a particular prostaglandin signaling pathway can differ depending on the context of cerebral injury, for example in excitotoxicity/hypoxia paradigms versus inflammatory-mediated secondary neurotoxicity. The divergent effects of prostaglandin receptor signaling will likely depend on distinct patterns and dynamics of receptor expression in neurons, endothelial cells, and glia and the specific ways in which these cell types participate in particular models of neurological injury.
COX-2; PGE2; EP1 receptor; EP2 receptor; EP3 receptor; EP4 receptor; excitotoxicity; cerebral ischemia; inflammation; Alzheimer's disease (AD); Parkinson's disease (PD); amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
The female reproductive axis is the first major organ system of the body to fail with advancing age.
In addition to a permanent cessation of fertile potential, the loss of cyclic ovarian function in humans heralds the
onset of menopause, which in turn underlies the emergence of a diverse spectrum of health issues in aging women.
Recently, it was reported that bone marrow (BM) transplantation (BMT) into adult female mice conditioned a week
earlier with highly cytotoxic drugs rescues ovarian function and fertility. Herein we show in mice receiving no
prior conditioning regimen that once-monthly infusions of BM-derived cells retrieved from young adult female donors
bearing an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) transgene sustain the fertile potential of aging wild-type females
long past their time of normal reproductive senescence. The fertility-promoting effects of female donor BM are observed
regardless whether the infusions are initiated in young adult or middle-aged females. Although the mechanism by which BM
infusions benefit the reproductive performance of aging females remains to be elucidated, the absence of EGFP-expressing
offspring suggests that it does not depend on development of mature eggs derived from germline-committed cells in the donor
marrow. However, donor BM-derived somatic cells accumulate in the recipients, indicating efficient donor cell engraftment
without prior conditioning. These findings provide a strong impetus to further explore development of adult stem cell-based
technologies to safely extend function of the female reproductive axis into advanced age without the need for toxic
pre-conditioning protocols routinely used in other models of stem cell delivery.
stem cell; bone marrow; ovary; fertility; aging; reproduction; menopause
Various kinds of stress are thought to precipitate psychiatric disorders, such as major depression. Whereas studies in rodents have suggested a critical role of medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in stress susceptibility, the mechanism of how stress susceptibility is determined through mPFC remains unknown. Here we show a critical role of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a bioactive lipid derived from arachidonic acid, in repeated social defeat stress in mice. Repeated social defeat increased the PGE2 level in the subcortical region of the brain, and mice lacking either COX-1, a prostaglandin synthase, or EP1, a PGE receptor, were impaired in induction of social avoidance by repeated social defeat. Given the reported action of EP1 that augments GABAergic inputs to midbrain dopamine neurons, we analyzed dopaminergic response upon social defeat. Analyses of c-Fos expression of VTA dopamine neurons and dopamine turnover in mPFC showed that mesocortical dopaminergic pathway is activated upon social defeat and attenuated with repetition of social defeat in wild-type mice. EP1 deficiency abolished such repeated stress-induced attenuation of mesocortical dopaminergic pathway. Blockade of dopamine D1-like receptor during social defeat restored social avoidance in EP1-deficient mice, suggesting that disinhibited dopaminergic response during social defeat blocks induction of social avoidance. Furthermore, mPFC dopaminergic lesion by local injection of 6-hydroxydopamine, which mimicked the action of EP1 during repeated stress, facilitated induction of social avoidance upon social defeat. Taken together, our data suggest that PGE2-EP1 signaling is critical for susceptibility to repeated social defeat stress in mice through attenuation of mesocortical dopaminergic pathway.