Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) and polycystic ovarian syndrome are ovarian diseases causing infertility. Although there is no effective treatment for POI, therapies for polycystic ovarian syndrome include ovarian wedge resection or laser drilling to induce follicle growth. Underlying mechanisms for these disruptive procedures are unclear. Here, we explored the role of the conserved Hippo signaling pathway that serves to maintain optimal size across organs and species. We found that fragmentation of murine ovaries promoted actin polymerization and disrupted ovarian Hippo signaling, leading to increased expression of downstream growth factors, promotion of follicle growth, and the generation of mature oocytes. In addition to elucidating mechanisms underlying follicle growth elicited by ovarian damage, we further demonstrated additive follicle growth when ovarian fragmentation was combined with Akt stimulator treatments. We then extended results to treatment of infertility in POI patients via disruption of Hippo signaling by fragmenting ovaries followed by Akt stimulator treatment and autografting. We successfully promoted follicle growth, retrieved mature oocytes, and performed in vitro fertilization. Following embryo transfer, a healthy baby was delivered. The ovarian fragmentation-in vitro activation approach is not only valuable for treating infertility of POI patients but could also be useful for middle-aged infertile women, cancer patients undergoing sterilizing treatments, and other conditions of diminished ovarian reserve.
In mammalian follicles, oocytes are arrested at the diplotene stage of prophase I until meiotic resumption following the LH surge. Recently, C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), encoded by natriuretic peptide precursor type C (NPPC) was found to suppress mouse oocyte maturation by promoting cyclic guanosine 5-monophospate (cGMP) production in cumulus cells. However, regulation of NPPC/CNP expression during the pre-ovulatory period and their regulation by the LH surge have not been investigated.
Although medical treatment of unruptured ectopic pregnancy using methotrexate has been established, development of more potent and safer medical treatment is needed due to limited indications and side effects of methotrexate. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signals through its receptor tyrosine kinase B (TrkB) to regulate the growth of malignant trophoblastic, choriocarcinoma cell. We investigated possible involvement of this signaling system in nonmalignant human trophoblast growth in both ectopic and intrauterine pregnancy. Here, we demonstrated the expression of BDNF in syncytiotrophoblasts and extravillous trophoblasts (EVTs) together with TrkB in cytotrophoblasts and EVTs in human placental villi during both normal and ectopic pregnancies. Treatment of cultured villous explants with soluble TrkB ectodomain or a Trk receptor inhibitor K252a suppressed cytotrophoblast differentiation by inhibiting EVT outgrowth reflected by decreased levels of an EVT marker, human leukocyte antigen-G. These inhibitors also decreased cytotrophoblast proliferation and cellular viability based on histopathological analyses and monitoring glucose metabolism, together with increased apoptosis in cytotrophoblasts based on in situ terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated 2-deoxyuridine 5-triphosphate nick end-labeling and caspase-3/7 assays. After xenotransplantation of human placental villi into SCID mice as an in vivo model of ectopic pregnancy, treatment with K252a suppressed transplanted villi growth as reflected by decreased cytotrophoblast differentiation and proliferation, reduced tissue levels of chorionic gonadotropin-?, and increased apoptosis and caspase-3/7 activities. Thus, paracrine signaling by the BDNF/TrkB system is important for human cytotrophoblast differentiation, proliferation, and survival, and inhibition of BDNF/TrkB signaling in cytotrophoblasts could provide a novel medical treatment for ectopic pregnancy.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signals through its receptor tyrosine kinase (Trk)B to regulate the development trophoblast cells during peri- and postimplantation periods. Possible involvement of this signaling system in malignant human trophoblastic cell growth has not been investigated. Here, we found the expression of BDNF and neurtropin-4/5 together with TrkB in human trophoblastic choriocarcinoma cells. Treatment of cultured choriocarcinoma cells with a soluble TrkB ectodomain or a Trk receptor inhibitor K252a suppressed cell proliferation and increased apoptosis associated by the disruption of mitochondrial functions, whereas an inactive plasma membrane nonpermeable K252b was ineffective. Studies using these specific inhibitors also indicated the importance of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and ERK pathways in mediating BDNF actions. Based on PCR array analyses to identify changes in expression profiles of cell cycle- and apoptosis-related genes in cultured choriocarcinoma cells, we found that suppression of endogenous TrkB signaling led to decreases in key proproliferation cell cycle genes and increases in two inhibitory cell cycle genes together with the up-regulation of several proapoptotic genes. In vivo studies in athymic nude mice bearing choriocarcinoma cell tumors further demonstrated that treatment with K252a, but not K252b, suppressed tumor growth accompanied by decreased cell proliferation, reduced levels of a tumor marker, human chorionic gonadotropin-beta, and increased levels of apoptosis and caspase-3/7 activities. Thus, autocrine signaling of the BDNF/TrkB system is important for human choriocarcinoma cell growth, and inhibition of BDNF/TrkB signaling in these cells could provide a novel therapy for patients with choriocarcinoma.
Recent studies indicate that LH stimulates production of ovarian paracrine factors that induce meiosis of the oocyte. DNA microarray analyses of ovarian transcripts were performed in mice and major increases of a short isoform of leptin receptor, ObRa, were identified by the preovulatory LH/human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) surge. In oocytes, the level of ObRa transcripts was increased shortly after HCG stimulation, whereas the level of ObRb transcripts was not changed. Leptin was produced by cumulus, granulosa, theca and interstitial cells of ovaries and its transcript level was not regulated during gonadotrophin treatment. Treatment with leptin promoted germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) in oocytes within preovulatory follicles, and enhance first polar body extrusion in both cumulus-oocyte complexes and denuded oocytes. The leptin-promoted GVBD and first polar body extrusion were blocked by a mitogen-activated protein kinase extracellular signal regulated kinase kinases (MEK)1/2 inhibitor, U0126, but not its inactive analogue U0124. Furthermore, leptin promoted fertilization of oocytes and the in-vitro development of zygotes to preimplantation embryos. These findings suggest paracrine roles of leptin in the enhancement of nuclear maturation of oocytes through MEK1/2 signalling, and in the promotion of cytoplasmic maturation essential for successful oocyte development to the preimplantation embryos.
Successful implantation of the blastocyst and subsequent placental development is essential for reproduction. Expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-4/5, together with their receptor, tyrosine kinase B (TrkB), in trophectoderm cells of blastocyst suggests their potential roles in implantation and placental development. Here we demonstrated that treatment with BDNF promoted blastocyst outgrowth, but not adhesion, in vitro and increased levels of the cell invasion marker matrix metalloproteinase-9 in cultured blastocysts through the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway. After implantation, BDNF and neurotrophin-4/5 proteins as well as TrkB were expressed in trophoblast cells and placentas during different stages of pregnancy. Both TrkB and its ligands were also expressed in decidual cells. Treatment of cultured trophoblast cells with the TrkB ectodomain, or a Trk receptor inhibitor K252a, suppressed cell growth as reflected by decreased proliferation and increased apoptosis, whereas an inactive plasma membrane nonpermeable K252b was ineffective. Studies using the specific inhibitors also indicated the importance of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway in mediating the action of TrkB ligands. In vivo studies in pregnant mice further demonstrated that treatment with K252a, but not K252b, suppressed placental development accompanied by increases in trophoblast cell apoptosis and decreases in placental labyrinth zone at midgestation. In vivo K252a treatment also decreased fetal weight at late gestational stages. Our findings suggested important autocrine/paracrine roles of the BDNF/TrkB signaling system during implantation, subsequent placental development, and fetal growth by increasing trophoblast cell growth and survival.
Mammalian oocytes remain dormant in the diplotene stage of prophase I until the resumption of meiosis characterized by germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) following the preovulatory gonadotropin stimulation. Based on genome-wide analysis of peri-ovulatory DNA microarray to identify paracrine hormone-receptor pairs, we found increases in ovarian transcripts for endothelin-1 and endothelin receptor type A (EDNRA) in response to the preovulatory luteinizing hormone (LH)/human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) stimulation. Immunohistochemical analyses demonstrated localization of EDNRA in granulosa and cumulus cells. In cultured preovulatory follicles, treatment with endothelin-1 promoted oocyte GVBD. The stimulatory effect of endothelin-1 was blocked by cotreatment with antagonists for the type A, but not related type B, receptor. The stimulatory effect of hCG on GVBD was partially blocked by the same antagonist. The endothelin-1 promotion of GVBD was found to be mediated by the MAPK/ERK pathway but not by the inhibitory G protein. Studies using cumulus-oocyte complexes and denuded oocytes demonstrated that the endothelin-1 actions are mediated by cumulus cells. Furthermore, intrabursal administration with endothelin-1 induced oocyte GVBD in preovulatory follicles. Our findings demonstrate a paracrine role of endothelin-1 in the induction of the resumption of meiosis and provide further understanding on the molecular mechanisms underlying the nuclear maturation of oocytes induced by the preovulatory LH surge.
Shortly after stimulation by the preovulatory surge of luteinizing hormone (LH), oocytes arrested at the late prophase I resume meiosis characterized by germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD), chromosome condensation, and extrusion of the first polar body in preparation for fertilization and early embryonic development. However, oocytes express few or no LH receptors and are insensitive to direct LH stimulation. Thus, factors released by granulosa or theca cells expect to convey the LH stimuli to oocytes. To identify candidate ligand-receptor pairs potentially involved in the process of oocyte maturation, we performed DNA microarray analyses of ovarian transcripts in mice and identified Kit ligand (Kitl) as an ovarian factor stimulated by the LH/hCG surge. The purpose of this study is to investigate the roles of KITL in the nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation of preovulatory mouse oocytes.
Uterine leiomyosarcoma is an aggressive tumor typically found at advanced stages due to difficulties with early diagnosis. Because uterine leiomyosarcoma is resistant to conventional radiation and chemotherapy, the development of more potent medical therapeutics is anticipated. Using quantitative real-time RT-PCR and immunostaining, we found the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotropin-4/5, together with their receptor, tyrosine kinase B (TrkB), in different uterine sarcoma cell lines and primary tumor samples from uterine leiomyosarcoma patients. We noted that levels of BDNF were more abundant than those of neurotropin-4/5. Moreover, the expression of TrkB and its ligands was elevated in a multidrug-resistant cell line and samples obtained from patients with leiomyosarcoma. In cultured uterine sarcoma cells, inhibition of endogenous TrkB signaling by treatment with either the soluble TrkB ectodomain or the Trk receptor inhibitor, K252a, suppressed cell proliferation and increased apoptosis based on cell viability and proliferation, in situ terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated 2-deoxyuridine 5-triphosphate nick end-labeling and caspase-3/7 assays, whereas an inactive plasma membrane nonpermeable K252b was ineffective. Correspondingly, treatment with exogenous BDNF increased cell proliferation. In in vivo studies in athymic nude mice bearing multidrug-resistant uterine sarcoma cell tumors, we demonstrate suppression of tumor growth by treatment with K252a, but not K252b, as reflected by decreased cell proliferation and increased levels of apoptosis and caspase-3/7 activities without obvious side effects. Our findings indicated that endogenous signaling of the TrkB pathway contributed to uterine sarcoma cell growth, and inhibition of TrkB signaling in these tumors could provide a novel medical therapy for patients with uterine sarcomas.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)/tyrosine kinase B (TrkB) receptor signaling promotes trophoblast growth in normal and abnormal pregnancy. It also regulates the growth of malignant trophoblastic, choriocarcinoma cells. However, possible involvement of this signaling system in hydatidiform mole, another major gestational trophoblastic disease, has not been determined. Here, we found the expression of BDNF in syncytiotrophoblasts and its receptor, TrkB, in cytotrophoblasts of hydatidiform mole using real-time RT-PCR and immunoassays. In molar explant cultures, treatment with soluble TrkB ectodomain or a Trk receptor inhibitor K252a inhibited trophoblast outgrowth as well as decreased cytotrophoblast proliferation and cellular viability based on histopathological analyses and glucose metabolism monitoring. These inhibitors also increased apoptosis and caspase-3/7 activities. In an in vivo model of hydatidiform molar growth based on xenotransplantation of molar tissues into kidney capsules of SCID mice, treatment with K252a suppressed molar growth as reflected by decreased trophoblast proliferation and their invasion into mouse kidney, reduced tissue levels of chorionic gonadotropin-?, and increased apoptosis. Based on PCR array analyses to identify changes in expression profiles of cell cycle- and apoptosis-related genes in cultured molar explants, suppression of endogenous TrkB signaling led to decreases in key cell cycle-stimulatory and checkpoint genes together with the down-regulation of different antiapoptotic genes. Our findings demonstrate the importance of paracrine signaling by the BDNF/TrkB system in the proliferation and survival of molar trophoblasts. Inhibition of BDNF/TrkB signaling could provide a novel medical treatment for hydatidiform mole.
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