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1.  Exposure to chemical cocktails before or after conception – The effect of timing on ovarian development☆ 
Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology  2013;376(1-2):156-172.
•In-utero exposure to environmental chemicals disturbs ovary development.•We investigated differential effects of exposure before or after conception.•The fetal ovary is most affected by exposure after conception.•Unexpectedly, response to continuous exposure was less severe than previously.•Alterations in profiles of in utero exposure to chemicals may be most damaging.
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.
PMCID: PMC3731555  PMID: 23791816
Anti-ACTB, anti-β actin; DEHP, diethylhexylphthalate; ECs, environmental chemicals; EDCs, endocrine disrupting chemicals; FSH, follicle stimulating hormone; LH, luteinising hormone; WB, Western blot; Ovary; Development; In utero exposure; Environmental chemicals; Mixtures; EDCs
2.  Maternal undernutrition does not alter Sertoli cell numbers or the expression of key developmental markers in the mid-gestation ovine fetal testis 
The aim of this study was to determine the effects of maternal undernutrition on ovine fetal testis morphology and expression of relevant histological indicators. Maternal undernutrition, in sheep, has been reported, previously, to alter fetal ovary development, as indicated by delayed folliculogenesis and the altered expression of ovarian apoptosis-regulating gene products, at day 110 of gestation. It is not known whether or not maternal undernutrition alters the same gene products in the day 110 fetal testis.
Design and methods
Mature Scottish Blackface ewes were fed either 100% (Control; C) or 50% (low; L) of estimated metabolisable energy requirements of a pregnant ewe, from mating to day 110 of gestation. All pregnant ewes were euthanized at day 110 and a sub-set of male fetuses was randomly selected (6 C and 9 L) for histology studies designed to address the effect of nutritional state on several indices of testis development. Sertoli cell numbers were measured using a stereological method and Ki67 (cell proliferation index), Bax (pro-apoptosis), Mcl-1 (anti-apoptosis), SCF and c-kit ligand (development and apoptosis) gene expression was measured in Bouins-fixed fetal testis using immunohistochemistry.
No significant differences were observed in numbers of Sertoli cells or testicular Ki67 positive cells. The latter were localised to the testicular cords and interstitium. Bax and Mcl-1 were localised specifically to the germ cells whereas c-kit was localised to both the cords and interstitium. SCF staining was very sparse. No treatment effects were observed for any of the markers examined.
These data suggest that, unlike in the fetal ovary, maternal undernutrition for the first 110 days of gestation affects neither the morphology of the fetal testis nor the expression of gene products which regulate apoptosis. It is postulated that the effects of fetal undernutrition on testis function may be expressed through hypothalamic-pituitary changes.
PMCID: PMC3584724  PMID: 23295129
Testis; Sertoli; Undernutrition; Fetal; Sheep; Gonad
3.  Maternal undernutrition and the ovine acute phase response to vaccination 
The acute phase response is the immediate host response to infection, inflammation and trauma and can be monitored by measuring the acute phase proteins (APP) such as haptoglobin (Hp) or serum amyloid A (SAA). The plane of nutrition during pregnancy is known to affect many mechanisms including the neuroendocrine and neuroimmune systems in neonatal animals but effects on the APP are unknown. To investigate this phenomenon the serum concentration of Hp and SAA was initially determined in non-stimulated lambs from 3 groups (n = 10/group). The dams of the lambs of the respective groups were fed 100% of requirements throughout gestation (High/High; HH); 100% of requirements for the first 65 d of gestation followed by 70% of requirements until 125 d from when they were fed 100% of requirements (High/Low; HL); 65% of liveweight maintenance requirements for the first 65 d gestation followed by 100% of requirements for the remainder of pregnancy (Low/High; LH). The dynamic APP response in the lambs was estimated by measuring the concentration of Hp and SAA following routine vaccination with a multivalent clostridial vaccine with a Pasteurella component, Heptavac P™ following primary and secondary vaccination.
The Hp and SAA concentrations were significantly lower at the time of vaccination (day 8–14) than on the day of birth. Vaccination stimulated the acute phase response in lambs with increases found in both Hp and SAA. Maternal undernutrition led to the SAA response to vaccination being significantly lower in the HL group than in the HH group. The LH group did not differ significantly from either the HH or HL groups. No significant effects of maternal undernutrition were found on the Hp concentrations. A significant reduction was found in all groups in the response of SAA following the second vaccination compared to the response after the primary vaccination but no change occurred in the Hp response.
Decreased SAA concentrations, post-vaccination, in lambs born to ewes on the HL diet shows that maternal undernutrition prior to parturition affects the innate immune system of the offspring. The differences in response of Hp and SAA to primary and secondary vaccinations indicate that the cytokine driven APP response mechanisms vary with individual APP.
PMCID: PMC2233616  PMID: 18197966
4.  Cellular and Hormonal Disruption of Fetal Testis Development in Sheep Reared on Pasture Treated with Sewage Sludge 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2005;113(11):1580-1587.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether experimental exposure of pregnant sheep to a mixture of environmental chemicals added to pasture as sewage sludge (n = 9 treated animals) exerted effects on fetal testis development or function; application of sewage sludge was undertaken so as to maximize exposure of the ewes to its contents. Control ewes (n = 9) were reared on pasture treated with an equivalent amount of inorganic nitrogenous fertilizer. Treatment had no effect on body weight of ewes, but it reduced body weight by 12–15% in male (n = 12) and female (n = 8) fetuses on gestation day 110. In treated male fetuses (n = 11), testis weight was significantly reduced (32%), as were the numbers of Sertoli cells (34% reduction), Leydig cells (37% reduction), and gonocytes (44% reduction), compared with control fetuses (n = 8). Fetal blood levels of testosterone and inhibin A were also reduced (36% and 38%, respectively) in treated compared with control fetuses, whereas blood levels of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone were unchanged. Based on immunoexpression of anti-Müllerian hormone, cytochrome P450 side chain cleavage enzyme, and Leydig cell cytoplasmic volume, we conclude that the hormone changes in treated male fetuses probably result from the reduction in somatic cell numbers. This reduction could result from fetal growth restriction in male fetuses and/or from the lowered testosterone action; reduced immunoexpression of α-smooth muscle actin in peritubular cells and of androgen receptor in testes of treated animals supports the latter possibility. These findings indicate that exposure of the developing male sheep fetus to real-world mixtures of environmental chemicals can result in major attenuation of testicular development and hormonal function, which may have consequences in adulthood.
PMCID: PMC1310922  PMID: 16263515
anti-Müllerian hormone; environmental chemicals; follicle-stimulating hormone; FSH; gonocyte; inhibin-A; Leydig cell; LH; peritubular myoid cell; Sertoli cell; sewage sludge; testosterone
5.  Alkyl Phenols and Diethylhexyl Phthalate in Tissues of Sheep Grazing Pastures Fertilized with Sewage Sludge or Inorganic Fertilizer 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2005;113(4):447-453.
We studied selected tissues from ewes and their lambs that were grazing pastures fertilized with either sewage sludge (treated) or inorganic fertilizer (control) and determined concentrations of alkylphenols and phthalates in these tissues. Mean tissue concentrations of alkylphenols were relatively low (< 10–400 μg/kg) in all animals and tissues. Phthalates were detected in tissues of both control and treated animals at relatively high concentrations (> 20,000 μg/kg in many tissue samples). The use of sludge as a fertilizer was not associated with consistently increased concentrations of either alkylphenols or phthalates in the tissues of animals grazing treated pastures relative to levels in control animal tissues. Concentrations of the two classes of chemicals differed but were of a similar order of magnitude in liver and muscle as well as in fat. Concentrations of each class of compound were broadly similar in tissues derived from ewes and lambs. Although there were significant differences (p < 0.01 or p < 0.001) between years (cohorts) in mean tissue concentrations of both nonylphenol (NP) and phthalate in each of the tissues from both ewes and lambs, the differences were not attributable to either the age (6 months or 5 years) of the animal or the duration of exposure to treatments. Octylphenol concentrations were generally undetectable. There was no consistent cumulative outcome of prolonged exposure on the tissue concentrations of either class of pollutant in any ewe tissue. Mean tissue concentrations of phthalate were higher (p < 0.001) in the liver and kidney fat of male compared with female lambs. We suggest that the addition of sewage sludge to pasture is unlikely to cause large increases in tissue concentrations of NP and phthalates in sheep and other animals with broadly similar diets and digestive systems (i.e., domestic ruminants) grazing such pasture.
PMCID: PMC1278485  PMID: 15811823
alkylphenol; bioaccumulation; diethylhexyl phthalate; pasture; sewage sludge; sheep; tissue

Results 1-5 (5)