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Department of Animal Sciences
The Robert H. Smith Faculty
of Agricultural, Food & Environment

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Roth, Z. ; Dvir, A. ; Furman, O. ; Lavon, Y. ; Kalo, D. ; Leitner, G. ; Wolfenson, D. Oocyte maturation in plasma or follicular fluid obtained from lipopolysaccharide-treated cows disrupts its developmental competence. Theriogenology 2020, 141, 120-127. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Mastitis has deleterious effects on ovarian function and reproductive performance. We studied the association between plasma or follicular fluid (FF) obtained from endotoxin-induced mastitic cows, and oocyte developmental competence. Lactating Holstein cows were synchronized using the Ovsynch protocol. On Day 6 of the synchronized cycle, an additional PGF2α dose was administered, and either Escherichia coli endotoxin (LPS, 10 μg; n = 3 cows) or saline (n = 3 cows) was administered to one udder quarter per cow, 36 h later. Milk samples were collected and rectal temperatures recorded. Cows treated with LPS showed a typical transient increase in body temperature (40.3 °C ± 0.4), whereas cows treated with saline maintained normal body temperature (38.9 °C ± 0.04). A higher (P < 0.05) somatic cell count was recorded for cows treated with LPS. Plasma samples were collected and FF was aspirated from the preovulatory follicles by transvaginal ultrasound probe, 6 h after LPS administration. Radioimmunoassay was performed on plasma samples to determine estradiol and cortisol concentrations. Either FF or plasma was further used as maturation medium. In the first experiment, oocytes were matured in TCM-199 (Control) or in FF aspirated from cows treated with saline (FF-Saline) or LPS (FF-LPS). Cleavage rate to the 2- to 4-cell stage embryo did not differ among groups. However, the proportion of developed blastocysts on Day 7 postfertilization in the FF-LPS group tended to be lower for that in FF-Saline and was lower (P < 0.05) than that in the Control groups (10.6 vs. 22.4 and 24.4%, respectively). In the second experiment, oocytes were matured in TCM-199 (Control), or in plasma obtained from cows treated with saline (Plasma-Saline) or LPS (Plasma-LPS). Similar to the FF findings, cleavage rate did not differ among groups; however, the proportion of developing blastocysts tended to be lower in the Plasma-LPS group than in the Plasma-Saline group and was lower (P < 0.05) from that in the Control group (11.0 vs. 25.5 and 34.7%, respectively). The proportion of apoptotic cells per blastocyst, determined by TUNEL assay, did not differ among the experimental groups. The findings shed light on the mechanism by which mastitis induces a disruption in oocyte developmental competence. Further studies are required to clarify whether the negative effect on oocyte developmental competence is a result of LPS, by itself, or due to elevation of secondary inflammatory agents. © 2019
Komsky-Elbaz, A. ; Saktsier, M. ; Biran, D. ; Argov-Argaman, N. ; Azaizeh, H. ; Landau, Y. S. ; Roth, Z. Atrazine-induced toxicity in goat spermatozoa is alleviated to some extent by polyphenol-enriched feed. Chemosphere 2019, 236. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Atrazine (ATZ) is one of the most extensively used herbicides to control growth of broadleaf and grassy weeds in crops. ATZ and its metabolites have deleterious effect on sperm quality. ATZ is also known for its ability to induce oxidative stress. Pistacia lentiscus (PL) is an evergreen shrub, with a high content of polyphenols in leaf extracts, with a known anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The protective effect of PL or its extracts against ATZ-induced damage have not been yet evaluated. We examined the harmful effects of atrazine (ATZ) exposure on male reproductive system, using goat (Capra hircus) model spermatozoa and the protective effects of PL and PL ethanolic extract (PLE). In in-vivo experiments, male goats were fed a standard ration or one supplemented with 15 mg ATZ/kg body weight daily, for 6 months. Exposure to ATZ impaired the spermatozoa's morphology, viability, mitochondrial membrane potential and cell lipid composition. These alterations may in turn lead to reduced fertilization competence of the exposed spermatozoa. In an ex-vivo experiment, spermatozoa from male goats fed a standard ration or one supplemented with PL or PLE for 90 days and then were exposed to 1 μM ATZ or 10 μM of its major metabolite diaminochlorotriazine (DACT) through in-vitro capacitation. Prefeeding with PL or PLE partially attenuated the harmful effects of ATZ and DACT. Dietary supplementation with polyphenol-enriched feed can protect, to a certain extent, spermatozoa in males exposed to environmental toxicants. © 2019 Elsevier Ltd
Komsky-Elbaz, A. ; Zubov, A. ; Roth, Z. Effect of the herbicide atrazine and its major metabolite, DACT, on bovine sperm cryotolerance. Theriogenology 2019, 140, 117-123. Publisher's VersionAbstract
During freezing and thawing procedures, sperm are exposed to chemical and/or physical stressors that may cause adverse and harmful changes to sperm membranes. Accurate evaluation of the structural and functional integrity of fresh as well as cryopreserved sperm is highly important in predicting sperm fertilization capacity and success of artificial insemination (AI). The herbicide atrazine (ATZ) and its major metabolite, diaminochlorotriazine (DACT) are considered a ubiquitous environmental contaminants and endocrine disruptors, which deleteriously effect sperm function. Taking into consideration possible damage caused by environmental contaminants to sperm membranes, additive effects during cryopreservation cannot be ruled out. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the effect of ATZ (0.1 or 1 μM) and DACT (1 or 10 μM) exposure during or after cryopreservation on bovine sperm cryotolerance. Sperm membrane integrity and functionality were evaluated using fluorimetric probes: (1) double-stranded DNA was examined by 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole; (2) plasma membrane integrity was examined by propidium iodide; (3) acrosome reaction (AR) was examined by fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated Pisum sativum agglutinin; mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) was examined by 5,5′,6,6′-tetra-chloro-1,1′,3,3′-tetraethylbenzimidazolyl carbocyanine iodide fluorescent probe. The findings demonstrate, that exposure of sperm to ATZ (0.1 or 1 μM) or DACT (1 or 10 μM) during cryopreservation increased the proportion of dead sperm relative to the control (P < 0.09); exposure to DACT (1 or 10 μM) increased ΔΨm (P < 0.03). Neither ATZ nor DACT affected spontaneous AR. In contrast, the proportion of sperm with Ca++ ionophore-induced AR was lower after exposure to 1 μM DACT (P < 0.05). Following freezing and thawing procedures, exposing sperm to 1 μM ATZ increased the proportion of dead sperm relative to the control (P < 0.05), but had no significant effect on sperm ΔΨm or AR. In conclusion, exposing sperm to endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as ATZ or DACT during cryopreservation reduces sperm cryotolerance and resistance post-thawing. © 2019
Wolfenson, D. ; Roth, Z. Impact of heat stress on cow reproduction and fertility. Animal Frontiers 2019, 9 32-38. Publisher's Version
Kalo, D. ; Vitorino Carvalho, A. ; Archilla, C. ; Duranthon, V. ; Moroldo, M. ; Levin, Y. ; Kupervaser, M. ; Smith, Y. ; Roth, Z. Mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP) induces transcriptomic alterations in oocytes and their derived blastocysts. Toxicology 2019, 421, 59-73.Abstract
Mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), the main di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) metabolite, is a known reproductive toxicant. Residual levels of 20 nM MEHP have been found in follicular fluid aspirated from IVF-treated women and DEHP-treated animals. The current study examined whether these residual MEHP levels have any effect on the follicle-enclosed oocyte or developing embryo. Bovine oocytes were matured with or without 20 nM MEHP for 22 h. Microarray analysis was performed for both mature oocytes and 7-day blastocysts. A proteomic analysis was performed on mature oocytes (n = 200/group) to reveal a possible direct effect on the oocyte proteomic profile. Transcriptome analysis revealed MEHP-induced alterations in the expression of 456 and 290 genes in oocytes and blastocysts, respectively. The differentially expressed genes are known to be involved in various biological pathways, such as transcription process, cytoskeleton regulation and metabolic pathway. Among these, the expression of 9 genes was impaired in both oocytes exposed to MEHP (i.e., direct effect) and blastocysts developed from those oocytes (i.e., carryover effect). In addition, 191 proteins were found to be affected by MEHP in mature oocytes (Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD012092). The study explores, for the first time, the risk associated with exposing oocytes to low concentration (i.e., environmentally relevant concentration) of MEHP to the maternal transcripts. Although it was the oocytes that were exposed to MEHP, alterations carried over to the blastocyst stage, following embryonic genome activation, implying that these embryos are of low quality.
Shimoni, C. ; Kalo, D. ; Hansen, P. J. ; Roth, Z. 168 Melatonin slightly alleviates the effect of heat shock on nuclear maturation of the bovine oocyte. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 2019, 31, 209 - 209. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Exposing bovine cumulus-oocyte complexes (COC) to heat shock during in vitro maturation (IVM) reduces oocyte developmental competence. Melatonin has been reported to improve cleavage of heat-shocked oocytes after fertilization. The current study examined whether protective activity of melatonin is associated with nuclear or cytoplasmic maturation events, or both. The COC were aspirated from Holstein ovaries collected at an abattoir and randomly divided into 3 experimental groups. The control COC were matured (22 h) in standard oocyte maturation medium (OMM) at 38.5°C and 5% CO2; the treatment COC were matured (22 h) in OMM at 41.5°C and 6% CO2 (HS) without or with 10−7 M melatonin (HS+M). Data are presented as least squares means ± s.e.m. To examine nuclear maturation, COC were denuded of cumulus cells at the end of maturation, fixed in 2% (vol/vol) paraformaldehyde, and labelled with 10 μg mL−1 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) (200 COC, 3 replicates). The meiotic status of denuded oocytes was evaluated under inverted fluorescence microscope using Nis Elements software (Nikon, Tokyo, Japan). The proportion of oocytes that resumed meiosis and reached the metaphase II (MII) stage was lower in the HS group than in the control (13.7 v. 55%, respectively; chi-squared, P < 0.05); melatonin slightly alleviated this effect, as indicated by a higher proportion of MII-stage oocytes in HS+M than in the HS group (32 v. 13.7%, respectively; chi-squared, P < 0.05). Cytoplasmic maturation was evaluated according to the distribution pattern of cortical granules (CG). Matured COC were denuded and the oocytes were stained with 100 μg mL−1 fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated Arachis hypogaea agglutinin (FITC-PNA) and counterstained with 10 μg mL−1 DAPI. Oocytes were examined under an inverted fluorescence microscope and classified as 1 of 3 types according to their cortical distribution pattern (3 replicates; 200 COC). The proportion of oocytes classified as type 3, which is associated with cytoplasmic maturation, did not differ between the experimental groups, either when analysed for total oocytes or for nuclear matured oocytes (i.e. MII stage). To evaluate the level of reactive oxygen species (ROS), matured-denuded oocytes were labelled using 2′,7′-dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate (H2DCFDA) and the intracellular fluorescence of DCF was immediately measured by fluorescence microscopy (3 replicates, 425 COC). Heat shock increased ROS level relative to the control (68.8 ± 5.32 v. 33.9 ± 4.08 pixels intensity, respectively; P < 0.05) and melatonin tended to alleviate the effect of heat stress to some extent (56.0 ± 4.78; P < 0.06). In summary, heat shock impairs the process of nuclear maturation, expressed by reduced proportion of MII-stage oocytes at the end of maturation. Melatonin partly overcomes this effect, perhaps through its antioxidant activity.
Arav, A. ; Natan, Y. ; Kalo, D. ; Komsky-Elbaz, A. ; Roth, Z. ; Levi-Setti, P. E. ; Leong, M. ; Patrizio, P. A new, simple, automatic vitrification device: preliminary results with murine and bovine oocytes and embryos. 2018, 35, 1161 - 1168. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This paper reports the use of a novel automatic vitrification device (Sarah, Fertilesafe, Israel) for cryopreservation of oocytes and embryos.
Komsky-Elbaz, A. ; Roth, Z. Fluorimetric Techniques for the Assessment of Sperm Membranes. JoVE 2018, e58622. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Standard spermiograms describing sperm quality are mostly based on the physiological and visual parameters, such as ejaculate volume and concentration, motility and progressive motility, and sperm morphology and viability. However, none of these assessments is good enough to predict the semen quality. Given that maintenance of sperm viability and fertilization potential depends on membrane integrity and intracellular functionality, evaluation of these parameters might enable a better prediction of sperm fertilization competence. Here, we describe three feasible methods to evaluate sperm quality using specific fluorescent probes combined with fluorescence microscopy or flow cytometry analyses. Analyses assessed plasma membrane integrity using 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) and propidium iodide (PI), acrosomal membrane integrity using fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated Pisum sativum agglutinin (FITC-PSA) and mitochondrial membrane integrity using 5,5',6,6'-tetra-chloro-1,1',3,3'-tetraethylbenzimidazolyl carbocyanine iodide (JC-1). Combinations of these methods are also presented. For instance, use of annexin V combined with PI fluorochromes enables assessing apoptosis and calculating the proportion of apoptotic sperm (apoptotic index). We believe that these methodologies, which are based on examining spermatozoon membranes, are very useful for the evaluation of sperm quality.
Roth, Z. Stress-induced alterations in oocyte transcripts are further expressed in the developing blastocyst. Molecular Reproduction and Development 2018, 85, 821 - 835. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The oocyte achieves its developmental competence through the lengthy process of folliculogenesis. It can therefore potentially be exposed to various stressors while enclosed in the follicle. Oocyte maturation relies mainly on maternal sources. These include nuclear, cytoplasmic, and molecular maturation, which involve DNA and RNA organization. Maternal transcripts are dominant through the first embryonic cleavages, up until embryonic genome activation. Thus, it is suggested that any perturbations during oocyte storage, in particular of the maternal transcripts, might lead to genetic and/or epigenetic changes, which might be further expressed in the developing embryo. The review discusses the effects of three representative stressors?environmental heat stress, endocrine-disrupting compounds (phthalates), and inflammatory stress (mastitis)?shown to be involved in reduced fertility. The review highlights the carryover response from the oocyte to the developing embryo; it includes intracellular and molecular disruptive mechanisms with an emphasis on maternal transcripts. The review provides insights into the oocyte?s cellular and molecular responses with an emphasis on the effects of various stressors on the maternal (nuclear and mitochondrial) transcripts and the association with embryonic development. A comparison between stressors might clarify, at least in part, a few open questions. For instance, (a) whether stress-induced alterations share the same mechanism and if so (b) whether this mechanism involves alterations of maternal transcripts; (c) whether stress-induced alterations in the maternal transcript are further expressed at the developing blastocyst stage, that is, after embryonic genome activation.
Roth, Z. Symposium review: Reduction in oocyte developmental competence by stress is associated with alterations in mitochondrial function1. Journal of Dairy Science 2018, 101, 3642 - 3654. Publisher's VersionAbstract
ABSTRACTStress can affect reproductive performance of lactating cows by targeting the ovarian pool of follicles and their enclosed oocytes. Among the documented stressors are heat stress (i.e., high temperature-humidity index) as well as environmental and food toxins. Oocytes collected during the hot season are of lower quality than those collected in the winter, expressed by reduced oocyte maturation and developmental competence. A similar pattern has been reported for oocytes exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Whereas the underlying mechanism might differ among stressors, accumulating evidence suggests that stress-induced impairment of oocyte developmental competence involves alterations in mitochondrial functioning. Within the oocyte, mitochondria are involved in ATP generation, calcium homeostasis, regulation of cytoplasmic reduction–oxidation, signal transduction, and apoptosis. Summer heat stress is strongly associated with alterations in mitochondrial distribution and alterations in mitochondria membrane potential. Heat stress impairs the expression of mitochondrion-associated genes, in particular those related to mitochondrial DNA transcription and replication and encoding oxidative phosphorylation complexes for ATP production. Reduction of ATP levels below the required threshold is suggested to compromise the progression of oocyte maturation and, subsequently, embryonic development. Another mechanism associated with mitochondrial function is the increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS), which has been documented in oocytes exposed to heat stress or environmental toxicants. Oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria is the major source of ROS. Under physiological conditions, ROS are essential for nuclear maturation; however, disequilibrium between ROS production and antioxidative capacity might lead to DNA damage and apoptosis. The current review provides new insights into the oocyte's cellular and molecular responses to stress with an emphasis on the mitochondria. It discusses some strategies to mitigate the effects of stress on the mitochondria, such as incorporation of coenzyme Q10—a key component of the mitochondrial respiratory chain—administration of antioxidants, and injection of healthy mitochondria. Exploring the oocyte's cellular and molecular responses, in particular that of the mitochondria, might lead to the development of new strategies to mitigate the effects of various stressors on fertility.
Komsky-Elbaz, A. ; Saktsier, M. ; Roth, Z. Aflatoxin B1 impairs sperm quality and fertilization competence. Toxicology 2018, 393, 42 - 50. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Aflatoxins are poisonous byproducts of the soilborne fungus Aspergillus, involved in the decomposition of plant materials. Aflatoxins can be found in various food products, such as maize, sorghum, millet, rice and wheat. AFB1 is the most toxic of these, classified as a carcinogen and mutagen for both humans and animals. AFB1 has been detected in human cord blood and placenta; however, its toxic effect on sperm is less known. The current study examines sperm responses associated with AFB1 exposure. These included acrosome integrity and function, mitochondrial polarity, DNA fragmentation, fertilization competence and early embryonic development. Spermatozoa were obtained from bull ejaculate and epididymis and capacitated in vitro for 4h with 0, 0.1, 1, 10 and 100μM AFB1. Following capacitation, acrosome reaction (AR) was induced by Ca2+ ionophore. The integrity and functionality of sperm were examined simultaneously by florescent staining. A Halosperm DNA fragmentation kit was used to evaluate DNA integrity. An in-vitro culture system was used to evaluate fertilization competence and blastocyst formation rate, using bovine oocytes. Findings indicate dose-responsive variation among compartments to AFB1 exposure. Sperm viability, expressed by integrity of the plasma membrane, was lower in sperm isolated from ejaculate or epididymis after culturing with AFB1. Exposure to AFB1 reduced the proportion of sperm from the epididymis tail undergoing acrosome reaction induced by Ca2+ ionophore. AFB1 impaired mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔYm) in sperm isolated from ejaculate and the epididymis tail. Exposing ejaculated sperm to AFB1 increased the proportion of sperm with fragmented DNA and reduced the proportion of embryos that cleaved to the 2- to 4-cell stage, 42h postfertilization, however, the proportion of embryos that developed to blastocysts, 7days postfertilization, did not differ among groups. The findings explore the harmful effects of AFB1 on sperm viability, ΔΨm and DNA integrity associated with fertility competence. We postulate that AFB1-induced fragmentation in paternal DNA might have a carryover effect on the quality of developing embryos. Further evaluation for the quality of blastocysts derived from sperm exposed to AFB1 is warranted.
Malama, E. ; Zeron, Y. ; Janett, F. ; Siuda, M. ; Roth, Z. ; Bollwein, H. Use of computer-assisted sperm analysis and flow cytometry to detect seasonal variations of bovine semen quality. Theriogenology 2017, 87, 79 - 90. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Seasonal fluctuations of climate are considered a major factor affecting spermatogenesis and semen quality in the bovine. Our study aimed to investigate the effect of season on functional parameters of frozen-thawed bovine semen using computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) and flow cytometry. For this purpose, 86 ejaculates were collected from five mature Holstein-Friesian bulls kept under subtropical conditions during summer (August to September; n = 43) and winter (December to January; n = 43) months. Semen was diluted with a Tris-egg yolk-based extender and frozen at −196 °C. Computer-assisted sperm analysis was performed immediately after thawing (0h) and after 3 hours of incubation (3h) to evaluate the percentage (%) of total motile, progressively motile, and rapidly motile sperm. In addition, the average path, curvilinear, and straight-line velocities as well as the amplitude of lateral head displacement of sperm were determined. The percentages of sperm with intact plasma membrane and acrosome (PMAI, %), with high mitochondrial membrane potential (HMMP, %), with low intracellular Ca+2 levels (LOW-Ca+2, %), and with high DNA fragmentation index (DFI%, %) were flow cytometrically determined at 0 and 3h. The survival rate of sperm under hypotonic conditions (HYPO-SURV, %) and the percentage of sperm with inducible acrosome reaction (IAR, %) were assessed using flow cytometry at 0 and 3h, respectively. The fixed effect of season (winter vs. summer) on the quality parameters of sperm was explored by applying linear mixed-effects models. The results showed an improvement of all CASA parameters, except for the straight-line velocity (P > 0.05) in winter compared with summer for both unincubated and incubated sperm (P < 0.01 in all cases). Ejaculates collected in summer had lower values of IAR (P < 0.001) as well as PMAI, HMMP, and LOW-Ca+2 at 0 and 3h (P < 0.01 in all cases). On the contrary, HYPO-SURV and DFI% (at 0 and 3h) were not affected by season (P > 0.05 in all cases). Concluding, the employment of CASA and flow cytometry revealed season-related alterations in the functional status of cryopreserved bovine sperm, which suggest an adverse effect of summer heat stress on motility, plasma membrane and acrosome integrity, inducibility of acrosome reaction, mitochondrial function and intracellular Ca+2 content, but not on the DNA integrity of sperm after freezing–thawing.
Komsky-Elbaz, A. ; Roth, Z. Effect of the herbicide atrazine and its metabolite DACT on bovine sperm quality. Reproductive Toxicology 2017, 67, 15 - 25. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Atrazine (ATZ), one of the most extensively used herbicides, is considered a ubiquitous environmental contaminant. ATZ is a known endocrine disruptor, and deleterious effects on reproductive function have been shown, even at low, ecologically relevant doses (0.1–3μg/L). Once it enters the body, ATZ is metabolized to various metabolites, which are further detected in the urine, serum and tissues. In mammals, the major ATZ metabolite is diaminochlorotriazine (DACT). The current study focuses on direct effects of low doses of ATZ and DACT on bovine sperm isolated from ejaculates or epididymis compartments (head, body and tail). Sperm were incubated under capacitation conditions with or without 0.1–10μM ATZ or 1–100μM DACT. The integrity and functionality of sperm membranes (plasma, acrosomal and mitochondrial) were examined simultaneously by fluorescence staining at 0, 2 and 4h of incubation. Acrosome reaction (AR) was induced by Ca++ ionophore, after capacitation. The findings indicated that both ATZ and DACT adversely affect sperm, expressed by damaged sperm membranes. ATZ had a prominent effect on epididymal-tail sperm, expressed as disruption of all examined membranes, mostly at low (0.1 or 1μM) concentrations; pseudo-AR and that induced by Ca++ ionophore were both affected by exposure to 0.1μM ATZ (P<0.05 and P<0.00004, respectively). A similar pattern was documented for sperm isolated from ejaculates (P<0.002 and P<0.001, respectively). ΔYm was affected by ATZ in sperm isolated from the epididymis tail (1μM, P<0.0009), but not in that isolated from ejaculates. DACT reduced sperm viability at all examined concentrations and in all fractions. DACT at 1μM impaired ΔΨm in sperm isolated from the epididymis tail and ejaculate (P<0.005). DACT at 100μM did not induce pseudo-AR in sperm isolated from the ejaculate, but did in sperm isolated from the epididymis tail (P<0.05). Induction of AR by Ca++ ionophore was impaired in sperm isolated from ejaculate and exposed to 10 or 100μM DACT (P<0.05) and in sperm isolated from the epididymis tail and exposed to 1, 10 or 100μM DACT (P<0.0004). These findings reveal the harmful effect of exposure to ATZ and DACT, mainly at low ecologically relevant doses, on sperm viability, AR and mitochondrial function. We conclude that sperm at advanced stages of spermatogenesis, through its passage and storage in the epididymis compartments as well as in the ejaculate, is sensitive to herbicide. The results suggest that ATZ- or DACT-induced disruptions of sperm membranes might impair sperm fertilization competence.
Roth, Z. Effect of Heat Stress on Reproduction in Dairy Cows: Insights into the Cellular and Molecular Responses of the Oocyte. Annual Review of Animal BiosciencesAnnual Review of Animal Biosciences 2017, 5 151 - 170. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Among the components of the female reproductive tract, the ovarian pool of follicles and their enclosed oocytes are highly sensitive to hyperthermia. Heat-induced alterations in small antral follicles can be expressed later as compromised maturation and developmental capacity of the ovulating oocyte. This review summarizes the most up-to-date information on the effects of heat stress on the oocyte with an emphasis on unclear points and open questions, some of which might involve new research directions, for instance, whether preantral follicles are heat resistant. The review focuses on the follicle-enclosed oocytes, provides new insights into the cellular and molecular responses of the oocyte to elevated temperature, points out the role of the follicle microenvironment, and discusses some mechanisms that might underlie oocyte impairment. Mechanisms include nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation, mitochondrial function, apoptotic pathways, and oxidative stress. Understanding the mechanism by which heat stress compromises fertility might enable development of new strategies to mitigate its effects.Among the components of the female reproductive tract, the ovarian pool of follicles and their enclosed oocytes are highly sensitive to hyperthermia. Heat-induced alterations in small antral follicles can be expressed later as compromised maturation and developmental capacity of the ovulating oocyte. This review summarizes the most up-to-date information on the effects of heat stress on the oocyte with an emphasis on unclear points and open questions, some of which might involve new research directions, for instance, whether preantral follicles are heat resistant. The review focuses on the follicle-enclosed oocytes, provides new insights into the cellular and molecular responses of the oocyte to elevated temperature, points out the role of the follicle microenvironment, and discusses some mechanisms that might underlie oocyte impairment. Mechanisms include nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation, mitochondrial function, apoptotic pathways, and oxidative stress. Understanding the mechanism by which heat stress compromises fertility might enable development of new strategies to mitigate its effects.
Kalo, D. ; Roth, Z. Low level of mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate reduces oocyte developmental competence in association with impaired gene expression. Toxicology 2017, 377, 38 - 48. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and its metabolite, mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), are reproductive toxicants. However, disruptive effects of MEHP at low concentrations on the oocyte and developing blastocyst are unknown. Previously, we detected low levels of MEHP in follicular fluid aspirated from DEHP-treated cows associated with reduced estradiol levels. Moreover, the MEHP concentrations found were similar to those reported for follicular fluid aspirated from women who have undergone IVF cycles. In the current study, we used an in vitro embryo production model to examine the effect of MEHP at low levels on oocyte developmental competence. We set up several experiments to mimic the follicular fluid content, i.e., low MEHP level and low estradiol. For all experiments, cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) were aspirated from bovine ovaries, then matured in vitro in standard oocyte maturation medium (OMM) supplemented with: MEHP at a range levels (20–1000nM) or with estradiol at a range levels (0–2000ng/ml). Then, oocytes were fertilized and cultured for an additional 7days to allow blastocyst development. Findings revealed that MEHP at low levels impairs oocyte developmental competence in a dose-dependent manner (P<0.05) and that estradiol by itself does not impair it. Accordingly, in another set of experiments, COCs were matured in vitro with MEHP at two choosen concentrations (20 or 1000nM) with or without estradiol, fertilized and cultured for 7days. Samples of mature oocytes and their derived blastocysts were subjected to quantitative real-time PCR to examine the profiles of selected genes (CYC1, MT-CO1, ATP5B, POU5F1, SOX2 and DNMT3b). Maturation of COCs with MEHP (20 or 1000nM) affected gene expression in the mature oocyte. Maturation of COCs with MEHP (20 or 1000nM) in the absence of estradiol reduced oocyte developmental competence (P<0.05). A differential carryover effect on transcript abundance was recorded in blastocysts developed from MEHP-treated oocytes. In the presence of estradiol, increased expression was recorded for CYC1, ATP5B, SOX2 and DNMT3b. In the absence of estradiol, decreased expression was recorded, with a significant effect for 1000nM MEHP (P<0.05). Taken together, the findings suggest that low levels of phthalate must be taken into consideration in risk assessments.
Li, Y. ; Kalo, D. ; Zeron, Y. ; Roth, Z. Progressive motility-a potential predictive parameter for semen fertilization capacity in bovines. Zygote 2016, 24, 70 - 82. Publisher's Version
Roth, Z. ; Asaf, S. ; Furman, O. ; Lavon, Y. ; Kalo, D. ; Wolfenson, D. ; Leitner, G. Subclinical mastitis disrupts oocyte cytoplasmic maturation in association with reduced developmental competence and impaired gene expression in preimplantation bovine embryos. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 2016, 28, 1653 - 1662. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Subclinical chronic mastitis was induced to examine the effects on oocyte developmental competence. Uninfected Holstein cows were intramammary administrated with serial (every 48 h for 20 days) low doses of toxin of Staphylococcus aureus origin (Gram-positive; G+), endotoxin of Escherichia coli origin (Gram-negative; G–) or sterile saline (control). Follicular fluid of toxin- and saline-treated cows was aspirated from preovulatory follicles and used as maturation medium. Oocytes harvested from ovaries collected at the abattoir were matured and then fertilised and cultured for 8 days. The percentage of oocytes undergoing nuclear maturation, determined by meiotic nuclear stages, did not differ between groups. Cytoplasmic maturation, determined by cortical granule distribution, was affected by both toxins (P < 0.05). The percentage of oocytes cleaving to 2- and 4-cell embryos and of embryos developing to the blastocyst stage was lower in both toxin-treated groups than in the control group (P < 0.05). There was no significant difference in the total cell number in Day 8 blastocysts among the groups; however, the apoptotic index was higher in both toxin-treated groups compared with control (P < 0.05). The relative abundance of prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 (prostaglandin G/H synthase and cyclo-oxygenase; PTGS2) mRNA increased, whereas that of growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF9) decreased in matured oocytes. In addition, PTGS2 expression increased and POU class 5 homeobox 1 (POU5F1) expression decreased in 4-cell embryos developed from both G+ and G– oocytes. Thus, regardless of toxin type, subclinical mastitis disrupts oocyte cytoplasmic maturation and alters gene expression in association with reduced developmental competence.
Roth, Z. ; Wolfenson, D. Comparing the effects of heat stress and mastitis on ovarian function in lactating cows: basic and applied aspects. 8th International Conference on Farm Animal Endocrinology 2016, 56, S218 - S227. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Reduced reproductive performance of lactating cows is strongly associated with environmental and pathogenic stressors. This review summarizes the most recent knowledge on the effects of acute or chronic heat stress (HS) and acute or chronic intramammary infection (IMI) on ovarian function. It also offers various approaches for improving the fertility of cows under chronic HS or IMI. Comparing the 2 stressors reveals a few similarities in the mode of alteration in the hypothalamus–pituitary–ovarian axis, in particular, in the follicle and its enclosed oocyte. Both HS and IMI cause a reduction in the preovulatory LH surge, with a pronounced effect in cows with IMI, and consequently, ovulation is being delayed or inhibited. Both stresses induce changes in follicular growth dynamics, reduce follicular steroidogenesis, and disrupt follicular dominance. Unlike their effects on follicular function, the effects of mastitis and HS on corpus luteum (CL) function are debatable. Under chronic summer thermal stress, several, but not all, studies show reduced progesterone secretion by the CL. Subclinical mastitis does not affect CL function, whereas the effect of clinical mastitis is controversial; some show a reduction in progesterone, whereas others do not. Both stresses have been found to impair cytoplasmic and nuclear maturation of oocytes, associated with reduced embryonic development. These findings have provided insights into the mechanism by which HS and IMI compromise fertility, which enable developing new strategies to mitigate these effects. For instance, treatment with GnRH and PGF2α to induce follicular turnover successfully improved conception rate in subpopulations of HS cows during the summer, in particular, primiparous cows and cows with high BCS. The “Ovsynch” program, also based on the use of GnRH and PGF2α, has been shown to improve conception rate of subclinical mastitic cows, most likely due to better synchronization of timing of ovulation with that of AI. Supplementing progesterone after AI improves conception rate of HS cows, particularly those with postpartum uterine disease and low BCS. It should be noted that similarities between the 2 stressors do not necessarily suggest a shared mechanism. Although not clear enough, an additive deleterious effects of HS and IMI on reproduction is suggested.
Ortega, M. S. ; Rocha-Frigoni, N. A. S. ; Mingoti, G. Z. ; Roth, Z. ; Hansen, P. J. Modification of embryonic resistance to heat shock in cattle by melatonin and genetic variation in HSPA1L. 2016, 99, 9152 - 9164. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The objectives were to test whether (1) melatonin blocks inhibition of embryonic development caused by heat shock at the zygote stage, and (2) the frequency of a thermoprotective allele for HSPA1L is increased in blastocysts formed from heat-shocked zygotes as compared with blastocysts from control zygotes. It was hypothesized that melatonin prevents effects of heat shock on development by reducing accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and that embryos inheriting the thermoprotective allele of HSPA1L would be more likely to survive heat shock. Effects of 1 µM melatonin on ROS were determined in experiments 1 and 2. Zygotes were cultured at 38.5 or 40°C for 3 h in the presence of CellROX reagent (ThermoFisher Scientific, Waltham, MA). Culture was in a low [5% (vol/vol)] oxygen (experiment 1) or low or high [21% (vol/vol)] oxygen environment (experiment 2). Heat shock and high oxygen increased ROS; melatonin decreased ROS. Development was assessed in experiments 3 and 4. In experiment 3, zygotes were cultured in low oxygen ± 1 µM melatonin and exposed to 38.5 or 40°C for 12 h (experiment 1) beginning 8 h after fertilization. Melatonin did not protect the embryo from heat shock. Experiment 4 was performed similarly except that temperature treatments (38.5 or 40°C, 24 h) were performed in a low or high oxygen environment (2×2 × 2 factorial design with temperature, melatonin, and oxygen concentration as main effects), and blastocysts were genotyped for a deletion (D) mutation (C→D) in the promoter region of HSPA1L associated with thermotolerance. Heat shock decreased percent of zygotes developing to the blastocyst stage independent of melatonin or oxygen concentration. Frequency of genotypes for HSPA1L was affected by oxygen concentration and temperature, with an increase in the D allele for blastocysts that developed in high oxygen and following heat shock. It was concluded that (1) lack of effect of melatonin or oxygen concentration on embryonic development means that the negative effects of heat shock on the zygote are not mediated by ROS, (2) previously reported effect of melatonin on fertility of heat-stressed cows might involve actions independent of the antioxidant properties of melatonin, and (3) the deletion mutation in the promoter of HSPA1L confers protection to the zygote from heat shock and high oxygen. Perhaps, embryonic survival during heat stress could be improved by selecting for thermotolerant genotypes.