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Hum Reprod. 2017 Aug 1;32(8):1583-1597. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dex217.

Corticotrophin-releasing hormone and corticosterone impair development of preimplantation embryos by inducing oviductal cell apoptosis via activating the Fas system: an in vitro study.

Author information

1
College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Shandong Agricultural University, Tai-an City 271018, Shandong Province, PR China.
2
Correspondence address. E-mail: tanjh@sdau.edu.cn

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION:

What are the mechanisms by which corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) and corticosterone impair the development of preimplantation embryos in the oviduct.

SUMMARY ANSWER:

CRH and corticosterone do not affect preimplantation embryos directly, but impair their development indirectly by triggering apoptosis of oviductal epithelial cells (OECs) through activation of the Fas system.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY:

Studies report that stress impairs embryo development with facilitated secretion of CRH and glucocorticoids. Although an in vivo study demonstrated that preimplantation stress impaired embryo development in conjunction with oviductal apoptosis and activation of the Fas system, whether CRH or glucocorticoids damage embryos directly or indirectly by way of oviductal cells remains to be clarified.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION:

Mice of Kunming strain, the generalized lymphoproliferative disorder (gld) mice with a germline mutation F273L in Fas ligand in a C57BL/6J genomic background and the wild-type C57BL/6J mice were used. Female mice were used 8-10 weeks after birth.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS:

While some female mice were killed 48 h after being injected with equine CG to collect oviducts and prepare OECs, others were killed to recover zygotes after mating with males following superovulation with eCG and hCG. The zygotes obtained were cultured with or without CRH or corticosterone (CRH/Cort) either in Chatot-Ziomek-Bavister (CZB) medium with or without OECs or in conditioned medium (CM) conditioned with OECs pretreated or not with CRH/Cort. Preimplantation development, levels of redox potential and apoptosis, and expression of CRH receptor 1 (CRHR1), glucocorticoid receptor (GR), Fas and 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD) were observed in embryos recovered at different times of in vitro culture. After culture of OECs with or without CRH/Cort, levels of redox potential and apoptosis, mRNA and protein expression of growth factors, and protein expression of CRHR1, GR and Fas were examined in OECs and the level of FasL was measured in CM. The gld mice were used to confirm a role for the Fas system in triggering apoptosis of embryos and oviducts.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE:

This study showed that blastocyst development was unaffected when mouse zygotes were cultured in CZB medium containing various concentrations of CRH/Cort but was impaired when embryos were cultured with CRH/Cort plus OECs or in CM conditioned with OECs pretreated with CRH/Cort (treatment CM). Culture in treatment-CM induced oxidative stress and apoptosis in embryos. Preimplantation embryos expressed GR and Fas at all stages and CRHR1 at the blastocyst stage only. Mouse 4-cell embryos and blastocysts expressed HSD2 but not HSD1. Culture of OECs with CRH/Cort increased their oxidative stress, apoptosis, CRHR1, Fas and FasL while decreasing their GR and growth factors. Blastocyst development in treatment-CM conditioned with OECs from gld mice harboring FasL mutations was superior to treatment-CM conditioned with wild-type mouse OECs. The results suggest that CRH/Cort impairs embryo development indirectly by inducing oviductal apoptosis via activating the Fas system. The insensitivity of preimplantation embryos to CRH and corticosterone is due to, respectively, a lack of CRHR and the exclusive expression of HSD2 that inactivate corticosterone.

LARGE SCALE DATA:

Not applicable.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION:

Although significant, the conclusions were drawn from limited results obtained using mice and thus they need further verification in other species. For example, bovine embryos express both HSD1 and HSD2 at all the preimplantation stages whereas mouse preimplantation embryos express HSD2 exclusively without HSD1.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS:

The data are important for our understanding of the mechanisms by which stress affects female reproduction in both human and animals, as early stages of pregnancy are considered more vulnerable to stress than the late stages.

STUDY FUNDING AND COMPETING INTEREST(S):

This study was supported by grants from the National Basic Research Program of China (Nos. 2014CB138503 and 2012CB944403), the China National Natural Science Foundation (Nos. 31272444 and 30972096) and the Animal breeding improvement program of Shandong Province. All authors declare that their participation in the study did not involve factual or potential conflicts of interests.

KEYWORDS:

CRH; apoptosis; embryo development; glucocorticoid; oviduct

PMID:
28591825
DOI:
10.1093/humrep/dex217
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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