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Biol Reprod. 2012 Jan 19;86(1):1-8. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.111.092999. Print 2012 Jan.

Copper/zinc superoxide dismutase insufficiency impairs progesterone secretion and fertility in female mice.

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Molecular Gerontology, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Japan.


Copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (CuZn-SOD, SOD1) is one of the major antioxidant enzymes, and is localized in the cytoplasm to scavenge superoxide. To investigate the physiological role of SOD1 in the ovaries, we analyzed the fertility of Sod1-deficient female mice. To evaluate their hormonal metabolism, we measured pituitary and ovarian hormone levels in the plasma of the mutant mice. Plasma follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and estradiol were not altered in the mutant compared to the wild-type females, while the plasma progesterone level was significantly reduced in the mutant females. Furthermore, the mutant mice showed decreased progesterone secretion under the condition of superovulation. In a histochemical analysis, we observed a remarkable reduction in the corpus luteum area in the mutant ovaries without atrophic changes. The mutant mice also displayed enhanced superoxide generation in the region surrounding the corpora lutea, which was associated with increased apoptotic cells and suppressed vasculature. These results suggested that SOD1 deficiency dysregulated luteal formation because of increased superoxide generation in the ovary. In vitro fertilization experiments showed no abnormal fertilization of Sod1-deficient oocytes. In addition, when Sod1-deficient embryos were transferred into the oviducts of wild-type females, mutant embryos developed at a normal rate, indicating that SOD1 deficiency in embryos did not cause miscarriage in the uterus of wild-type females. These results indicated that increased intracellular ROS impaired luteal formation and progesterone production in the mutant females, thus suggesting that SOD1 plays a crucial role in both the luteal function and the maintenance of fertility in female mice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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