Publications by authors named "Elaine M Carnevale"

28 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Effect of Mare Age on Transcript Abundance of Connexins-37 and -43, Zona Pellucida Proteins, and Sperm Binding.

J Equine Vet Sci 2021 Oct 21;108:103796. Epub 2021 Oct 21.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.

Zona pellucida (ZP) proteins are important for fertilization and sperm binding and are closely associated with cumulus cells. Communication between cumulus and oocytes is facilitated by intracellular membrane channels composed of connexins. The extent aging impacts potential differences in fertilization and reductions in fertility is not well understood. This study characterized age-related differences in transcript abundance of ZP proteins and connexins in cells from ovarian follicles. Additionally, differences in sperm binding to oocytes from old and young mares was evaluated. For experiment 1, oocytes, corona radiata, cumulus, and granulosa cells were collected from mares classified as young (4-12 years) or old (> 20 years). Transcript abundance was evaluated for connexins -37 (GJA4) and -43 (GJA1); zona pellucida glycoproteins 1, 2, 3, and 4 (ZP1, ZP2, ZP3, ZP4); Tubulin (TUBA1A), and equine chorionic gonadotropin β. For experiment 2, oocytes that failed to cleave following intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) were stored in salt solution for up to 4 years and used for sperm binding assays. Transcript abundance for GJA1 was decreased in oocytes, corona radiata, and granulosa cells while GJA4 was decreased in cumulus cells from old compared to young mares. Additionally, ZP1 tended to be decreased in corona radiata and cumulus cells from old mares. Oocytes from old mares tended to bind less spermatozoa compared young mares. Oocytes that failed to cleave following ICSI can be used for sperm binding studies for up to 2 years without losses in sperm binding. Our findings suggest that maternal age may contribute to changes in cellular communication and the ZP that could impact sperm binding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jevs.2021.103796DOI Listing
October 2021

Equine maternal aging affects oocyte lipid content, metabolic function and developmental potential.

Reproduction 2021 04;161(4):399-409

Equine Reproduction Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.

Advanced maternal age is associated with a decline in fertility and oocyte quality. We used novel metabolic microsensors to assess effects of mare age on single oocyte and embryo metabolic function, which has not yet been similarly investigated in mammalian species. We hypothesized that equine maternal aging affects the metabolic function of oocytes and in vitro-produced early embryos, oocyte mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number, and relative abundance of metabolites involved in energy metabolism in oocytes and cumulus cells. Samples were collected from preovulatory follicles from young (≤14 years) and old (≥20 years) mares. Relative abundance of metabolites in metaphase II oocytes (MII) and their respective cumulus cells, detected by liquid and gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry, revealed that free fatty acids were less abundant in oocytes and more abundant in cumulus cells from old vs young mares. Quantification of aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, respectively measured as oxygen consumption rate (OCR) and extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) in a microchamber containing oxygen and pH microsensors, demonstrated reduced metabolic function and capacity in oocytes and day-2 embryos originating from oocytes of old when compared to young mares. In mature oocytes, mtDNA was quantified by real-time PCR and was not different between the age groups and not indicative of mitochondrial function. Significantly more sperm-injected oocytes from young than old mares resulted in blastocysts. Our results demonstrate a decline in oocyte and embryo metabolic activity that potentially contributes to the impaired developmental competence and fertility in aged females.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/REP-20-0494DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7969451PMC
April 2021

Equine Aging and the Oocyte: A Potential Model for Reproductive Aging in Women.

J Equine Vet Sci 2020 06 15;89:103022. Epub 2020 Apr 15.

Equine Reproduction Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.

Numerous similarities in reproductive aging have been documented between the mare and woman. Aging is associated with a decline in fertility. In mares and women, oocyte transfer procedures were initially used to establish that oocyte donor age is associated with oocyte quality. Age-associated differences in oocytes include altered morphology, gene expression, and developmental potential. Reactive oxygen species and mitochondrial dysfunction are thought to be important contributors to loss of oocyte quality. In the woman, aneuploidy is a primary consideration with maternal aging. Although misalignment of chromosomes during meiosis has been observed in the mare, less is known in this area. Reproductive aging will be reviewed in the mare and compared with the woman with emphasis on factors that affect oocyte quality and developmental potential. Areas in which the mare could be used as a research model to study reproductive aging in women will be highlighted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jevs.2020.103022DOI Listing
June 2020

Morphology, developmental stages and quality parameters of in vitro-produced equine embryos.

Reprod Fertil Dev 2019 Jan;31(12):1758-1770

Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Andrology, Oregon Health Science and University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239-3098, USA.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is used to produce equine embryos invitro. The speed of embryo development invitro is roughly equivalent to what has been described for embryos produced invivo. Morphological evaluations of ICSI-produced embryos are complicated by the presence of debris and the dark nature of equine embryo cytoplasm. Morulas and early blastocysts produced invitro appear similar to those produced invivo. However, with expansion of the blastocyst, distinct differences are observed compared with uterine embryos. In culture, embryos do not undergo full expansion and thinning of the zona pellucida (ZP) or capsule formation. Cells of the inner cell mass (ICM) are dispersed, in contrast with the differentiated trophoblast and ICM observed in embryos collected from uteri. As blastocysts expand invitro, embryo cells often escape the ZP as organised or disorganised extrusions of cells, probably through the hole incurred during ICSI. Quality assessment of invitro-produced early stage equine embryos is in its infancy, because limited information is available regarding the relationship between morphology and developmental competence. Early embryo development invivo is reviewed in this paper, with comparisons made to embryo development invitro and clinical assessments from a laboratory performing commercial ICSI for >15 years.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RD19257DOI Listing
January 2019

Association of equine oocyte and cleavage stage embryo morphology with maternal age and pregnancy after intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Reprod Fertil Dev 2019 Jan;31(12):1812-1822

Equine Reproduction Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, 3101 Rampart Road, Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA; and Corresponding author. Email:

In this retrospective study the morphological characteristics of oocytes and cleavage stage embryos were associated with pregnancy results from clinical intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in mares. Oocytes were collected from preovulatory follicles, and images (×200; n=401) were captured for measurements of ooplasm, the perivitelline space and zona pellucida. After ICSI and before transfer into recipients' oviducts, cleavage stage embryos were imaged (n=178). Oocyte donor ages (3-13, 14-19, 20-23, 24-27 years) were compared, as were mares aged 3-13 years without versus with recent histories of performance or injury stress. Cleavage rates did not differ with age. However, pregnancy rates declined and pregnancy loss rates (11-50 days gestation) increased with mare age. Young mares with performance or injury stress had significantly lower pregnancy rates than young mares under management typical for broodmares. No morphological oocyte characteristic was consistently associated with age or pregnancy outcome. Cleavage stage embryo morphology was not associated with pregnancy outcome; however, the rate of embryo development before oviductal embryo transfer was faster (P<0.05) for embryos that resulted in an early pregnancy (≤17 days) and tended (P ≤ 0.1) to be higher for embryos that produced a 50-day pregnancy. Embryonic vesicles that had a more rapid increase in diameter were more often (P<0.05) maintained until 50 days gestation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RD19250DOI Listing
January 2019

Localisation of phospholipase Cζ1 (PLCZ1) and postacrosomal WW-binding protein (WBP2 N-terminal like) on equine spermatozoa and flow cytometry quantification of PLCZ1 and association with cleavage in vitro.

Reprod Fertil Dev 2019 Jan;31(12):1778-1792

Equine Reproduction Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, 3101 Rampart Rd, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80521, USA; and Corresponding author. Email:

Oocyte activation is initiated when a fertilising spermatozoon delivers sperm-borne oocyte-activating factor(s) into the oocyte cytoplasm. Candidates for oocyte activation include two proteins, phospholipase Cζ1 (PLCZ1) and postacrosomal WW-binding protein (PAWP; also known as WBP2 N-terminal like (WBP2NL)). We localised PLCZ1 and WBP2NL/PAWP in stallion spermatozoa and investigated the PLCZ1 content and sperm parameters as well as cleavage after intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). PLCZ1 was identified as 71-kDa protein in the acrosomal and postacrosomal regions, midpiece and principal piece of the tail. Anti-WBP2NL antibody identified two WBP2NL bands (~28 and ~32kDa) in the postacrosomal region, midpiece and principal piece of the tail. PLCZ1 and WBP2NL expression was positively correlated (P=0.04) in sperm heads. Flow cytometry evaluation of PLCZ1 revealed large variations in fluorescence intensity and the percentage of positively labelled spermatozoa among stallions. PLCZ1 expression was significantly higher in viable than non-viable spermatozoa, and DNA fragmentation was negatively correlated with PLCZ1 expression and the percentage of positively labelled spermatozoa (P<0.05). The use of equine sperm populations considered to have high versus low PLCZ1 content resulted in significantly higher cleavage rates after ICSI of bovine and equine oocytes, supporting the importance of PLCZ1 for oocyte activation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RD19217DOI Listing
January 2019

Impact of Equine and Bovine Oocyte Maturation in Follicular Fluid From Young and Old Mares on Embryo Production in Vitro.

J Equine Vet Sci 2018 Sep 22;68:94-100. Epub 2018 Jun 22.

Equine Reproduction Lab, Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. Electronic address:

Equine follicular fluid (FF) provides autocrine and paracrine factors from theca, granulosa, and cumulus cells, both reflecting and impacting oocyte and follicle maturation. We hypothesized that maturation of oocytes in FF from old versus young mares has a deleterious effect on oocyte maturation and their subsequent developmental potential. Follicular fluid was collected from the large, dominant follicle from young mares (4-13 years) or old mares (21-26 years) and classified as: (1) Noninduced follicular fluid (NFF), FF from noninduced follicle 33 ± 3 mm, or (2) Induced follicular fluid (IFF), FF collected ∼24 hours after administration of ovulation-inducing drugs when a follicle 33 ± 3 mm was observed. In experiment 1, immature equine oocytes were collected, matured in vitro for 30 ± 2 hours in 100% IFF, collected from young or old mares, with the addition of follicle stimulating hormone (5 mU/mL), then fertilized by intracytoplasmic sperm injection. In experiment 2, immature bovine oocytes were collected, matured in 100% IFF or NFF, collected from young mares or old mares, then fertilized via in vitro fertilization. In experiment 1, more blastocysts tended (P = .08) to be produced from equine oocytes that were matured in old versus young mare FF. In experiment 2, when IFF and NFF groups were combined, cleavage rates were higher (P = .001) when bovine oocytes were matured in FF from young than old mares. In contrast to our hypothesis, we observed no conclusive evidence that FF from old mares has a deleterious impact on oocytes and their early developmental potential.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jevs.2018.04.009DOI Listing
September 2018

Effects of extender, cryoprotectants and thawing protocol on motility of frozen-thawed stallion sperm that were refrozen for intracytoplasmic sperm injection doses.

Theriogenology 2019 Sep 19;136:36-42. Epub 2019 Jun 19.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Equine Reproduction Laboratory, 3101 Rampart Road, Fort Collins, CO, 80521, USA.

We examined the effects of different freezing extenders, cryoprotectant agents (CPA) and initial thawing temperatures for preparing doses of refrozen stallion sperm for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Single ejaculates, from twelve stallions, were frozen in lactose-EDTA-egg yolk extender (LE) with 5% glycerol. In experiment 1, sperm were initially thawed to 5 °C or 37 °C, before being diluted in LE or skim milk-egg yolk extender (SMEY) containing either 5% glycerol (GLY), 5% methylformamide (MF) or 5% of a combination of both (GMF). In experiment 2, frozen sperm were initially thawed to 5 °C, diluted and refrozen in SMEY containing 2, 4, 6 or 8% GLY or GMF. In Experiment 1, sperm motility was reduced after each cryopreservation cycle (P < 0.05). Extender type did not affect motility after refreezing (P > 0.05), but sperm initially thawed to 5 °C exhibited higher motility than sperm thawed to 37 °C (P < 0.05). In addition, sperm refrozen in SMEY containing MF or GMF exhibited higher motility than sperm refrozen in GLY alone (P < 0.05). In experiment 2, there was an interaction between CPA and CPA concentration (P < 0.05). Sperm refrozen with GMF had higher motility than refrozen sperm with GLY (P < 0.05), and while GLY concentration did not affect post-thaw motility (P > 0.05). Sperm refrozen with 6 or 8% GMF exhibited the highest motility (P < 0.05). In conclusion, sperm motility is best maintained when thawing and refreezing stallion sperm in low sperm concentration ICSI doses by initially thawing the sperm to 5 °C and diluting the sperm in a freezing extender with 8% GMF.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2019.06.030DOI Listing
September 2019

In Vitro Culture of Embryos from Horses.

Methods Mol Biol 2019 ;2006:219-227

Equine Reproduction Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.

Establishment of optimal methods for equine embryo culture has been slow when compared to some domestic species. In part, this delay was caused by the failure of standard in vitro fertilization techniques in horses. However, the development of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) for the assisted fertilization of equine oocytes has resulted in a renewed interest in establishing optimal methods for embryo culture. Currently, ICSI-produced equine embryos are cultured using media designed for other species or other cell cultures and, typically, with the addition of serum. Although systems specifically for horse embryo culture still have not been established, ICSI-produced embryos are developmentally competent and capable of producing live offspring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-9566-0_16DOI Listing
March 2020

Use of microfluidics to sort stallion sperm for intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Anim Reprod Sci 2019 Mar 2;202:1-9. Epub 2019 Jan 2.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Equine Reproduction Laboratory, 3101 Rampart Road, Fort Collins, CO, 80521, USA. Electronic address:

We determined if microfluidic sorting (MF) of frozen-thawed stallion sperm improves sperm population characteristics and results in embryo development after intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The efficiency and efficacy of MF sperm separation was evaluated by comparing pre- and post-separation sperm population variables. Procedural comparisons were performed after sorting with MF, single-layer colloidal centrifugation (SLC) or swim-up (SU), and cleavage and embryo development were evaluated after ICSI using MF-sorted sperm. In Experiment 1, when compared to the original sperm sample, MF sorting resulted in a sperm subpopulation with greater motility, morphology, viability, and membrane as well as DNA integrity. After sorting by MF, SLC and SU in Experiment 2, motility, viability, and membrane integrity were similar for sperm sorted using MF and SLC; however, morphology and DNA integrity were greater in sperm sorted using MF when compared with SLC. Swim-up was the least effective sorting method. In Experiment 3, sperm were processed using MF and SLC prior to ICSI. Motility, morphology and DNA integrity were similar for sperm subpopulations sorted using either method; but viability was greater for sperm sorted using MF than SLC. Sorting did not improve sperm membrane integrity. Sorting with MF prior to ICSI resulted in similar cleavage and blastocyst development rates as SLC. We concluded that MF separation of stallion sperm resulted in a subpopulation with improved sperm population parameters, comparable or better than SLC and SU. Embryos were produced after ICSI using MF sperm sorting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anireprosci.2018.12.012DOI Listing
March 2019

Association of equine sperm population parameters with outcome of intracytoplasmic sperm injections.

Theriogenology 2018 Oct 5;119:114-120. Epub 2018 Jul 5.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Equine Reproduction Laboratory, 3101 Rampart Road, Fort Collins, CO, 80521, USA. Electronic address:

Limited clinical information is available regarding sperm population parameters that are important for use with equine intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Therefore, the appropriateness of a sample of sperm is typically not known before ICSI. The aim of our study was to determine which sperm population characteristics were predictive of ICSI outcome. Frozen-thawed sperm samples (n = 114) from 37 stallions in a clinical program were analyzed after ICSI for percentages of normal morphology (MORPH+), live as assessed by eosin/nigrosin stain (LIVE+), membrane intact as assessed by hypoosmotic swelling test (HOS+), and DNA fragmentation determined by sperm chromatin dispersion (DNA-). ICSI was performed on 147 oocytes, and cleavage (≥2 cells), embryo development (morula or blastocyst), and pregnancy status after embryo transfer were determined. Among the examined sperm parameters, LIVE + correlated positively with MORPH+ and HOS+, and MORPH + negatively with DNA-; no other significant correlations were observed. When used for ICSI, sperm population percentages for MORPH+ and DNA- were not predictive of ICSI outcome, including cleavage, embryo development, and establishment of a pregnancy. Sperm population percentages significantly affecting ICSI outcomes were LIVE+ and HOS + for oocyte cleavage, LIVE + for embryo development, and HOS + for establishment of a pregnancy. The probability of a pregnancy was significantly higher for sperm populations having HOS+ ≥40% than populations having HOS+ ≤20%. The mean age of the donor mare per sperm-injected oocyte did not differ for oocyte cleavage, embryo production, or establishment of pregnancy. In our study, the probability of sperm-injected oocytes to develop into an embryo (morula or blastocyst) improved when sperm were selected from a population with higher indicators of membrane integrity (LIVE+ and HOS+).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2018.06.027DOI Listing
October 2018

Obesity in mares promotes uterine inflammation and alters embryo lipid fingerprints and homeostasis.

Biol Reprod 2018 10;99(4):761-772

Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.

Maternal body composition can be an important determinant for development of obesity and metabolic syndrome in adult offspring. Obesity-related outcomes in offspring may include epigenetic alterations; however, mechanisms of fetal programming remain to be fully elucidated. This study was conducted to determine the impact of maternal obesity in the absence of a high fat diet on equine endometrium and preimplantation embryos. Embryos were collected from normal and obese mares at 8 and 16 days and a uterine biopsy at 16 days (0 day = ovulation). With the exception of 8 day embryos, each sample was divided into two pieces. One piece was analyzed for gene expression markers related to carbohydrate metabolism, lipid homeostasis, inflammation, endoplasmic reticulum stress, oxidative stress, mitochondrial stress, and components of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system. The second piece was analyzed for lipid content using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry. Obese mares had elevated concentrations of insulin, leptin, and total cholesterol, and they tended to have increased triglycerides and decreased insulin sensitivity. Embryos from obese mares had altered transcript abundance in genes for inflammation and lipid homeostasis, as well as endoplasmic reticulum, oxidative and mitochondrial stress and altered lipid fingerprints. Endometrium from obese mares had increased expression of inflammatory cytokines, lipid homeostasis regulation, mitochondrial stress, and the IGF2 system. This study demonstrates that increased adiposity in mares alters the uterine environment, transcript abundance of genes for cellular functions, and lipid profiles of embryos. These alterations could affect prenatal programming, with potential long-term effects in offspring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biolre/ioy107DOI Listing
October 2018

Use of Confocal Microscopy to Evaluate Equine Zygote Development After Sperm Injection of Oocytes Matured In Vivo or In Vitro.

Microsc Microanal 2017 12 6;23(6):1197-1206. Epub 2017 Dec 6.

1Department of Biomedical Sciences,Colorado State University,1693 Campus Delivery,Fort Collins,CO 80523,USA.

Confocal microscopy was used to image stages of equine zygote development, at timed intervals, after intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) of oocytes that were matured in vivo or in vitro. After fixation for 4, 6, 8, 12, or 16 h after ICSI, zygotes were incubated with α/β tubulin antibodies and human anticentromere antibody (CREST/ACA), washed, incubated in secondary antibodies, conjugated to either Alexa 488 or Alexa 647, and incubated with 561-Phalloidin and Hoechst 33258. An Olympus IX81 spinning disk confocal microscope was used for imaging. Data were analyzed using χ 2 and Fisher's exact tests. Minor differences in developmental phases were observed for oocytes matured in vivo or in vitro. Oocytes formed pronuclei earlier when matured in vivo (67% at 6 h and 80% at 8 h) than in vitro (13% at 6 and 8 h); 80% of oocytes matured in vitro formed pronuclei by 12 h. More (p=0.04) zygotes had atypical phenotypes, indicative of a failure of normal zygote development, when oocyte maturation occurred in vitro versus in vivo (30 and 11%, respectively). Some potential zygotes from oocytes matured in vivo had normal phenotypes, although development appeared to be delayed or arrested. Confocal microscopy provided a feasible method to assess equine zygote development using limited samples.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1431927617012740DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5976488PMC
December 2017

Advances in Collection, Transport and Maturation of Equine Oocytes for Assisted Reproductive Techniques.

Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract 2016 Dec 8;32(3):379-399. Epub 2016 Oct 8.

Equine Reproduction Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, 3101 Rampart Road, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1693, USA. Electronic address:

Assisted reproductive techniques that are based on oocyte manipulations have gained acceptance in the equine industry. Methods to collect and handle immature or maturing oocytes have been developed, and systems to ship oocytes now allow for collection in one location and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in another. Subsequently, ICSI-produced embryos can be transferred onsite, shipped to another location, or cryopreserved. Methods for the collection, identification, culture, maturation, and shipment of equine oocytes are reviewed, with an emphasis on procedures from laboratories providing clinical services with documented success.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cveq.2016.07.002DOI Listing
December 2016

Effect of Obesity on the Preovulatory Follicle and Lipid Fingerprint of Equine Oocytes.

Biol Reprod 2016 Jan 2;94(1):15. Epub 2015 Dec 2.

Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

Obesity is associated with disrupted reproductive cycles in mares, but the impact of obesity on follicles and oocytes has received minimal attention. We investigated the impact of obesity on 1) expression of selected genes in follicle cells for carbohydrate metabolism, inflammatory cytokines, lipid homeostasis, endoplasmic reticulum stress, and mitochondrial function; 2) follicular fluid content of metabolic hormones and metabolites; and 3) lipid fingerprint of oocytes. Mares (9-13 yr) were classified as control (n = 8, normal weight, body condition score [BCS] 5.1, 10.4% body fat) or obese (n = 9, BCS 7.9, 16.2% body fat). Gene expression from granulosa cells (GC) and cumulus cells (CC) was evaluated by RT-PCR. Serum and follicular fluid were evaluated for insulin, leptin, adiponectin, and metabolite profiling. Oocyte lipid fingerprints were acquired using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry. Several genes for lipid homeostasis, endoplasmic reticulum stress, and mitochondrial function were different between groups in GC and CC. Obese had (P < 0.05) or tended to have (0.05 < P < 0.1) lower insulin sensitivity and higher insulin and leptin in serum and follicular fluid. Many metabolites differed between control and obese in serum and/or follicular fluid and correlated with BCS and/or insulin sensitivity. Oocytes from control had greater concentrations of lipids consistent with phosphatidylcholines, phosphatidylethanolamines, and sphingomyelins, while lipids consistent with triglycerides tended to be higher in obese. These findings suggest that maternal obesity causes alterations in the follicle and oocyte; the extent to which these alterations impact the conceptus and offspring is still to be determined.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1095/biolreprod.115.130187DOI Listing
January 2016

Effects of age on follicular fluid exosomal microRNAs and granulosa cell transforming growth factor-β signalling during follicle development in the mare.

Reprod Fertil Dev 2015 Jul;27(6):897-905

Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA.

Age-related decline in fertility is a consequence of low oocyte number and/or low oocyte competence resulting in pregnancy failure. Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β signalling is a well-studied pathway involved in follicular development and ovulation. Recently, small non-coding RNAs, namely microRNAs (miRNAs), have been demonstrated to regulate several members of this pathway; miRNAs are secreted inside small cell-secreted vesicles called exosomes. The overall goal of the present study was to determine whether altered exosome miRNA content in follicular fluid from old mares is associated with changes in TGF-β signalling in granulosa cells during follicle development. Follicular fluid was collected at deviation (n=6), mid-oestrus (n=6) and preovulation (n=6) for identification of exosomal miRNAs from young (3-12 years) and old (20-26 years) mares. Analysis of selected TGF-β signalling members revealed significantly increased levels of interleukin 6 (IL6) in granulosa cells from mid-oestrus compared with preovulatory follicles, and collagen alpha-2(I) chain (COL1A2) in granulosa cells from deviation compared with preovulatory follicles in young mares. In addition, granulosa cells from old mares had significantly altered levels of DNA-binding protein inhibitor ID-2 (ID2), signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) and cell division cycle 25A (CDC25A). Finally, changes in exosomal miRNA predicted to target selected TGF-β members were identified.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RD14452DOI Listing
July 2015

Cytoskeletal alterations associated with donor age and culture interval for equine oocytes and potential zygotes that failed to cleave after intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Reprod Fertil Dev 2015 Jul;27(6):944-56

Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, 1601 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is an established method to fertilise equine oocytes, but not all oocytes cleave after ICSI. The aims of the present study were to examine cytoskeleton patterns in oocytes after aging in vitro for 0, 24 or 48h (Experiment 1) and in potential zygotes that failed to cleave after ICSI of oocytes from donors of different ages (Experiment 2). Cytoplasmic multiasters were observed after oocyte aging for 48h (P<0.01). A similar increase in multiasters was observed with an increased interval after ICSI for young mares (9-13 years) but not old (20-25 years) mares. Actin vesicles were observed more frequently in sperm-injected oocytes from old than young mares. In the present study, multiasters appeared to be associated with cell aging, whereas actin vesicles were associated with aging of the oocyte donor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RD14468DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4934900PMC
July 2015

Effects of aging on gene expression and mitochondrial DNA in the equine oocyte and follicle cells.

Reprod Fertil Dev 2015 Jul;27(6):925-33

Colorado State University, 1693 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.

We hypothesised that advanced mare age is associated with follicle and oocyte gene alterations. The aims of the study were to examine quantitative and temporal differences in mRNA for LH receptor (LHR), amphiregulin (AREG) and epiregulin (EREG) in granulosa cells, phosphodiesterase (PDE) 4D in cumulus cells and PDE3A, G-protein-coupled receptor 3 (GPR3), growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF9), bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) and mitochondrial (mt) DNA in oocytes. Samples were collected from dominant follicles of Young (3-12 years) and Old (≥20 years) mares at 0, 6, 9 and 12h after administration of equine recombinant LH. LHR mRNA declined after 0h in Young mares, with no time effect in Old mares. For both ages, gene expression of AREG was elevated at 6 and 9h and EREG was expression was elevated at 9h, with higher expression in Old than Young mares. Cumulus cell PDE4D expression increased by 6h (Old) and 12h (Young). Oocyte GPR3 expression peaked at 9 and 12h in Young and Old mares, respectively. Expression of PDE3A increased at 6h, with the increase greater in oocytes from Old than Young mares at 6 and 9h. Mean GDF9 and BMP15 transcripts were higher in Young than Old, with a peak at 6h. Copy numbers of mtDNA did not vary over time in oocytes from Young mares, but a temporal decrease was observed in oocytes from Old mares. The results support an age-associated asynchrony in the expression of genes that are essential for follicular and oocyte maturation before ovulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RD14472DOI Listing
July 2015

Age-associated changes in granulosa cell transcript abundance in equine preovulatory follicles.

Reprod Fertil Dev 2015 Jul;27(6):906-13

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.

Age-related changes in follicle paracrine signalling are not defined, and follicular gene transcript abundance could predict oocyte viability. Granulosa cells from preovulatory follicles of mares considered Young (n=12; 4-14 years), Mid-aged (n=9; 15-19 years) and Old (n=14; 20-27 years) were evaluated for transcript abundance related to systemic and follicle-specific pathways. Gene transcript abundance for receptors of insulin, adiponectin and peroxisome proliferating factor-γ were higher or tended to be higher in Mid-aged or Old than Young mares. Transcript abundance for interleukin (IL)-6 was elevated in Old versus Young mares, and IL-6 signal transducer was elevated in Old versus younger groups. Expression of tumour necrosis factor (TNF) receptor superfamily member 1A was higher in Mid-aged than Young mares, whereas TNF-inducible gene 6 protein mRNA tended to decrease in Mid-aged versus Young and Old mares. Genes for LH receptor and steroidogenic acute regulatory protein tended to be increased in Old versus Mid-aged and Young mares, respectively. Young and Old mares had higher mRNA for tissue-type plasminogen activator than Mid-aged mares. Thioredoxin-2 mRNA was higher in Old than younger groups. We observed age-related changes in mRNA of receptors for metabolic hormones, inflammatory processes, steroidogenic hormones, tissue remodelling and mitochondrial function, which could contribute to and/or mark alterations in follicular function and fertility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RD14467DOI Listing
July 2015

Effects of milk proteins on sperm binding to the zona pellucida and intracellular Ca(2+) concentration in stallion sperm.

Anim Reprod Sci 2014 Nov 29;150(1-2):24-9. Epub 2014 Aug 29.

Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.

Objectives were to determine the effects of extracellular Ca(2+) and milk proteins on intracellular Ca(2+) concentrations in stallion sperm; and to determine the effects of single caseins on sperm binding to the zona pellucida (ZP). In Experiment I, sperm were incubated in media containing 2 or 4mM Ca(2+) and intracellular Ca(2+) concentration was determined after ionomycin treatment and long-term incubation (3h). Extracellular Ca(2+) concentrations (2 compared with 4mM) did not affect baseline intracellular Ca(2+) concentration of sperm. However, incubating sperm in a medium containing 4 compared with 2mM Ca(2+) resulted in greater (P<0.05) influx of Ca(2+) into sperm. In Experiment II, sperm incubated in media containing 1mg/mL of native phosphocaseinate (NP) or sodium caseinate (SC) showed similar baseline intracellular Ca(2+) and influx of Ca(2+) than control (TALP). In Experiment III, sperm-ZP binding assays were performed in TALP medium containing: no additions (TALP); 1mg/mL SC; 1 or 3mg/mL of α-casein; 1 or 3mg/mL of β-casein; and 1 or 3mg/mL of κ-casein. The number of stallion sperm bound to bovine ZP was greatest (P<0.05) when SC was used. Co-incubation in media containing single caseins (α-, β- or κ-casein) resulted in similar results to TALP; however, a dose effect (P<0.05) was observed for β- and κ-caseins. In conclusion, extracellular Ca(2+) concentration and milk proteins did not affect baseline intracellular calcium in stallion sperm. It appears that β- and κ-caseins may be responsible for enhancing sperm binding to ZP, but the mechanism remains unknown.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anireprosci.2014.08.010DOI Listing
November 2014

Regulation of ACVR1 and ID2 by cell-secreted exosomes during follicle maturation in the mare.

Reprod Biol Endocrinol 2014 May 26;12:44. Epub 2014 May 26.

Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.

Background: Ovarian follicle growth and maturation requires extensive communication between follicular somatic cells and oocytes. Recently, intercellular cell communication was described involving cell-secreted vesicles called exosomes (50-150 nm), which contain miRNAs and protein, and have been identified in ovarian follicular fluid. The goal of this study was to identify a possible role of exosomes in follicle maturation.

Methods: Follicle contents were collected from mares at mid-estrous (~35 mm, before induction of follicular maturation) and pre-ovulatory follicles (30-34 h after induction of follicular maturation). A real time PCR screen was conducted to reveal significant differences in the presence of exosomal miRNAs isolated from mid-estrous and pre-ovulatory follicles, and according to bioinformatics analysis these exosomal miRNAs are predicted to target members belonging to the TGFB superfamily, including ACVR1 and ID2. Granulosa cells from pre-ovulatory follicles were cultured and treated with exosomes isolated from follicular fluid. Changes in mRNA and protein were measured by real time PCR and Western blot.

Results: ACVR1 mRNA and protein was detected in granulosa cells at mid-estrous and pre-ovulatory stages, and real time PCR analysis revealed significantly lower levels of ID2 (an ACVR1 target gene) in granulosa cells from pre-ovulatory follicles. Exposure to exosomes from follicular fluid of mid-estrous follicles decreased ID2 levels in granulosa cells. Moreover, exosomes isolated from mid-estrous and pre-ovulatory follicles contain ACVR1 and miR-27b, miR-372, and miR-382 (predicted regulators of ACVR1 and ID2) were capable of altering ID2 levels in pre-ovulatory granulosa cells.

Conclusions: These data indicate that exosomes isolated from follicular fluid can regulate members of the TGFB/BMP signaling pathway in granulosa cells, and possibly play a role in regulating follicle maturation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1477-7827-12-44DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045866PMC
May 2014

Effects of components of semen extenders on the binding of stallion spermatozoa to bovine or equine zonae pellucidae.

Reproduction 2012 May 14;143(5):577-85. Epub 2012 Mar 14.

Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.

The effects of semen extender components on the ability of stallion sperm to bind to the zona pellucida (ZP) and the suitability of using bovine ZP for a ZP-binding assay for stallion sperm were investigated in a series of experiments. In Experiment I, binding of stallion sperm to both bovine and equine ZP was significantly increased when a skim milk-based extender (EZM) was used. In Experiment II, a threefold increase in sperm binding to ZP was observed when sperm were diluted in EZM compared with diluents, which contained no milk (TALP, LAC, and EmCare). In Experiment III, centrifuging the sperm through Percoll did not increase sperm binding to the ZP but did remove any positive effect of EZM on sperm-ZP binding. In Experiment IV, exposure of either sperm or ZP to EZM before co-incubation did not increase sperm binding to ZP. In Experiment V, sperm diluted in TALP containing skim milk, EZM, or INRA96 bound more efficiently to the ZP than sperm diluted in TALP without milk proteins. In Experiment VI, sodium caseinate, native phosphocaseinate, and caseinoglycopeptide increased sperm binding to the ZP. In conclusion, diluents containing milk or milk proteins markedly enhanced the number of sperm bound to both equine and bovine ZP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/REP-11-0099DOI Listing
May 2012

Cell-secreted vesicles in equine ovarian follicular fluid contain miRNAs and proteins: a possible new form of cell communication within the ovarian follicle.

Biol Reprod 2012 Mar 19;86(3):71. Epub 2012 Mar 19.

Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA.

Proper cell communication within the ovarian follicle is critical for the growth and maturation of a healthy oocyte that can be fertilized and develop into an embryo. Cell communication within the follicle involves many signaling molecules and is affected by maternal age. Recent studies indicate that cell communication can be mediated through secretion and uptake of small membrane-enclosed vesicles. The goals of this study were to 1) identify cell-secreted vesicles (microvesicles and exosomes) containing miRNAs and proteins within ovarian follicular fluid and 2) determine if miRNA level differs in exosomes isolated from follicular fluid in young compared to old mares. We demonstrate the presence of vesicles resembling microvesicles and exosomes in ovarian follicular fluid using transmission electron microscopy and CD63-positive and RNA containing vesicles using flow cytometry. Moreover, proteomics analysis reveals that follicular fluid-isolated exosomes contain both known exosomal proteins and proteins not previously reported in isolated exosomes. MicroRNAs were detected in microvesicle and exosomes preparations isolated from follicular fluid by real-time PCR analysis. Uptake of fluorescent-labeled microvesicles by granulosa cells was examined using in vitro and in vivo approaches. MicroRNA expression profiling reveals that miRNAs in microvesicle and exosome preparations isolated from follicular fluid also are present within surrounding granulosa and cumulus cells. These studies revealed that cell communication within the mammalian ovarian follicle may involve transfer of bioactive material by microvesicles and exosomes. Finally, miRNAs present in exosomes from ovarian follicular fluid varied with the age of the mare, and a number of different miRNAs were detected in young vs. old mare follicular fluid.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1095/biolreprod.111.093252DOI Listing
March 2012

Collection, evaluation, and use of oocytes in equine assisted reproduction.

Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract 2006 Dec;22(3):843-56

Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, 3194 Rampart Road, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.

Assisted reproductive techniques have been developed to obtain pregnancies from subfertile mares and stallions and to salvage gametes after death. In recent years, these procedures have been used for clinical cases with repeated success. Although new developments occur, the basis for the success and future development of assisted reproductive techniques is our ability to collect and handle the equine oocyte successfully. This article focuses on important clinical aspects of oocyte collection and evaluation and briefly discusses the clinical use of assisted reproductive procedures in the horse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cveq.2006.09.001DOI Listing
December 2006

Vitrification of equine embryos.

Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract 2006 Dec;22(3):831-41

Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, 3194 Rampart Road, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.

Vitrification can be used successfully to cryopreserve equine embryos. Embryos for vitrification should be collected from donor mares' uteri when they are 300 mm or less in diameter, however,and at the morula or early blastocyst stage of development. No special equipment is required for vitrification; the straw containing the embryo is exposed to vapor for 1 minute before plunging it into liquid nitrogen. Warming of the straw requires no special equipment,and the embryo can be transferred directly from the straw into a recipient's uterus. Vitrification has been repeatedly successful when the procedure is used with small embryos and provides a method for the rapid cryopreservation of equine embryos.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cveq.2006.08.003DOI Listing
December 2006

Use of parentage testing to determine optimum insemination time and culture media for oocyte transfer in mares.

Reproduction 2004 Nov;128(5):623-8

Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA.

Parentage identification was used to test the developmental competence of oocytes cultured under different conditions and fertilized in vivo after oocyte transfer. Oocytes were collected transvaginally from follicles of estrous mares approximately 22 h after administration of human chorionic gonadotropin. Oocytes were cultured for approximately 16 h in one of three media, with or without addition of hormones and growth factors. Groups of three or four oocytes, cultured in different media, were transferred into the oviduct contralateral to a recipient's own ovulation. Recipients were inseminated with semen from two different stallions at 15 h before and 2.5 h after oocyte transfer. Sixteen days after transfer, embryos were recovered from uteri and submitted for parentage testing. The percentage of oocytes resulting in embryonic vesicles was nearly identical (P >0.05) for transferred oocytes (32/44, 73%) versus ovulated oocytes of recipients (9/13, 69%). More (P <0.01) oocytes were fertilized by sperm inseminated before (35/38, 92%) versus after (3/38, 8%) oocyte transfer. Tissue culture medium (TCM)-199 was superior to equine maturation medium I (EMMI; a SOF-based medium) for culturing oocytes (P <0.05), although addition of hormones and growth factors during culture did not improve (P >0.05) development of embryos.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/rep.1.00207DOI Listing
November 2004

Pregnancies attained after collection and transfer of oocytes from ovaries of five euthanatized mares.

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003 Jan;222(1):60-2, 36

Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.

After euthanasia, ovaries were removed from 5 horses and shipped to a laboratory where 46 oocytes were collected. The oocytes were cultured for 24 to 30 hours, and 36 oocytes were transferred to 10 recipient mares via flank laparotomies. Recipient mares were inseminated with semen from various stallions. Sixteen days after transfer, 4 of the recipients were pregnant with at least 1 embryonic vesicle. Embryonic death occurred in 3 recipients, whereas a healthy live foal was born from 1 recipient. Ovaries from valuable mares can be a source of viable oocytes after death of the mare. For shipping to a laboratory, fluctuations in temperature should be minimized and the ovaries should not be chilled.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2460/javma.2003.222.60DOI Listing
January 2003
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