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Journal: Theriogenology


Adenomyosis of the uterus is characterized by the presence of islands of endometrial glands and stroma within the myometrium. Etiopathology of adenomyosis has not been clearly defined but it potentially interferes reproductive processes in cattle. The aim of this initial study was to evaluate the impact of age on the frequency of adenomyosis in cows. Endometrial tissues collected from cows slaughtered between Day 8 and 12 of the estrous cycle (N = 72) were divided into two age groups: (1) 2 to 4 years old (N = 36) and (2) 5 years old and older (N = 36). The tissues were stained with hematoxylin and eosin. The adenomyosis histopathomorphologic stage was classified on a four-point scale according to the penetration of endometrial structures inside the perimetrium. The protein expression of the 17-β estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) receptors were evaluated in the endometrial tissue samples by immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis, and E2 and P4 concentrations were measured in the peripheral blood and uterine tissue. Adenomyosis was observed in 38 of the cows examined including 13 of the 2- to 4-year-old cows and 25 of the cows 5 years old or older. The frequency and intensity of adenomyosis increased with age. Higher E2 receptor protein expression was observed in adenomyotic cows and increased with disease development and increase of number of glands inside the uterus in the direction of perimetrium, and P4 receptor protein expression were unchanged in healthy and adenomyotic cows. An increase in the expression of E2 receptors and high, supraphysiological levels of E2 was detected in cows with III and IV degree of adenomyosis (P < 0.05). Overexpression of E2 receptor and alternations in E2 secretion might make the bovine uterus susceptible to a growth advantage of adenomyotic tissue over the surrounding myometrium. The pathogenesis and immunoendocrine mechanisms controlling adenomyosis in cattle warrant further study.

Concepts: Protein, Uterus, Hormone, Receptor, Menstrual cycle, Endometrium, Steroid, Adenomyosis


The Cantabrian brown bear survives as a small remnant population in northern Spain and semen cryopreservation for future artificial insemination is one of the measures being implemented for conservation of this species. As part of this program we investigated the value of adding heat shock protein A8 (HSPA8) to media (N-[Tris(hydroxymethyl)methyl]-2-aminoethanesulfonic acid-TRIS-fructose with 20% egg yolk) used for chilling and cryopreserving the spermatozoa. Semen samples from eight brown bears were obtained by electroejaculation during the breeding season. In experiment 1, we tested three concentrations of HSPA8 (0.5, 1, and 5 μg/mL) to determine whether sperm motility (computer assisted sperm analysis system) and sperm survival could be improved during refrigeration (5 °C) up to 48 hours. Results showed that sperm viability (test with propidium iodide) was improved by the addition of 0.5 and 5 μg/mL HSPA8. In experiment 2, HSPA8 was added to the cryopreservation media (6% final glycerol concentration) before the freezing process. Though there were no differences in sperm viability immediately after thawing (analyses to 0 hours), plasma membrane permeability (test with YO-PRO-1) was significantly lower by the presence of HSPA8 (1 μg/mL) and acrosomal damage (test with peanut agglutinin-fluorescein isothiocyanate conjugate) was reduced by higher concentrations of HSPA8 (1 and 5 μg/mL) (analyses after thermal stress test incubating over 2 hours to 37 °C). In experiment 3, results of a simple progression test carried out through artificial mucus (hyaluronic acid 4 mg/mL) showed a significant decrease in the total number of sperm able to swim a distance of 0.5 to 2 cm through a capillary tube for all HSPA8-based extenders. Nevertheless, the distance traveled by the vanguard spermatozoa, which represent a highly motile subpopulation, was restored by the inclusion of 1 and 5 μg/mL HSPA8 in the cryopreservation media. Thus, the HSPA8 addition to extender improves the quality of brown bear (Ursus arctos) sperm during chilling (viability) and after cryopreservation (number of sperm with damaged acrosomes and “apoptotic-like” changes).

Concepts: Sperm, Spermatozoon, Semen, Bear, Brown Bear, Bears


Postoperative outcomes of animals that have undergone cesarean delivery have been reported previously; however, in most studies results were influenced by a combination of surgery per se and the preoperative condition of the animal, which was frequently impaired because of the presence of dystocia. To evaluate the effects of the cesarean section itself we conducted a matched cohort study comparing postpartum complications and future reproductive performance of 162 ewes subjected to elective cesarean section and 162 ewes that had an unassisted vaginal delivery. Survival and subsequent growth of their lambs were also compared. Effect of mode of delivery on weight gain was estimated using linear mixed models. Case ewes, which underwent surgery during the period from 1996 through 2004, and control ewes were from the flock at the Animal Production Experimental Centre, Norway. Two ewes (1.2%) that underwent cesarean section died; one developed peritonitis and the other experienced uterine prolapse and did not recover. Postoperatively, four ewes suffered from metritis, three suffered a wound infection, and four a delayed wound healing; all recovered after treatment. One of the ewes that delivered vaginally died 3 days after lambing. The incidences of fetal and postnatal deaths did not differ significantly between the cesarean and the vaginal delivery groups (fetal deaths, 3.5% and 3.1%, and postnatal deaths, 9.9% and 7.1%, respectively). Survival rates and weight gains of the lambs the subsequent months were similar for the two groups. Seventy percent of the ewes that had a cesarean section and 72% of those that had a vaginal delivery were bred the next season; conception rates were 89% and 90%, respectively. However, the ewes subjected to surgery the previous year gave birth to significantly fewer live-born lambs (mean, 1.64) than those that had had a vaginal delivery (1.93). The difference was the result of a reduced litter size and an increased number of fetal deaths in the former group. Birth weights of the live-born lambs the second year did not differ between the groups. In conclusion, severe short-term complications were rare among the ewes that underwent elective cesarean section. Survival and growth of their lambs and their conception rate the subsequent season did not differ from the corresponding outcomes of the ewes that delivered vaginally, but their fertility was reduced in the sense that they gave birth to fewer live-born lambs the following lambing season.

Concepts: Childbirth, Wound healing, Uterus, Obstetrics, Caesarean delivery on maternal request, Caesarean section, Surgical procedures, Dystocia


The objective was to identify suitable enzyme immunoassays to monitor gonadal and placental function in the female polar bear. Immunoreactive progesterone, progesterone metabolite (PdG), estrogen, and androgen metabolite (T) concentrations were measured in fecal samples collected over 24 mo from captive female bears (N = 20). Whereas fecal extracts produced displacement curves parallel to the standard curve for each respective steroid, T and PdG more accurately reflected reproductive events. Concentrations of fecal T increased (P < 0.05) during the breeding season, and brief spikes were associated with estrus and mating. A postovulatory increase in PdG was not always detected, but sustained baseline T after mating appeared consistent with ovulation. Parturient bears excreted higher PdG concentrations (P < 0.05) during expected time of embryo implantation in Fall, and a late gestational rise in fecal T occurred 30 days prepartum. Many nonparturient bears also had a PdG rise in the Fall, suggesting they experienced either pregnancy loss or a pseudopregnancy. Differentiating pregnant and pseudopregnant states was not achieved using fecal PdG alone, but when combined with fecal T, comprehensive diagnoses could be made. Nonparturient bears demonstrated elevated (P < 0.05) fecal T during summer months, whereas parturient bears did not. In summary, noninvasive hormone monitoring techniques were established for the female polar bear. Although this study was directed at facilitating management and breeding efforts of captive polar bears, the methods could be applied to studies of reproductive function in wild populations.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Reproduction, Estrogen, Arctic, Pinniped, Bear, Polar bear, Bears


Ineffective estrus detection is the foremost limiting factor in the fertility of farmed cattle worldwide. Failure to detect estrus or erroneous diagnosis of estrus results in great economic losses in Korea each year. This study was carried out in order to comprehensively describe the estrus behaviors and conception rates of different estrus synchronization protocols applied to 40 cycling native Korean cattle (Hanwoo). The cows were grouped into four (n = 10) and treated with the following protocols: (1) Day -15: controlled intravaginal drug-releasing device (CIDR) for 12 days; Day -5: prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α), (2) ovulation synchronization (OVS): Day -15: GnRH; Day -6: PGF2α; Day -4: GnRH, (3) Day -15: progesterone-releasing intravaginal device for 12 days; Day -5: PGF2α; and (4) Day -15: PGF2α; Day -4: PGF2α. Artificial insemination was performed 12 hours after the detection of estrus using frozen-thawed semen. Estrus signs were compared using a charge-coupled device camera (CCDC) and a control method (direct visual observation). The pregnancy of the cows was determined by transrectal ultrasonography at Days 25 to 30 postinsemination. The results indicated that the day of estrus return was significantly earlier using the CCDC method compared with direct visualization (P < 0.05). Mounting of other cows was the most predominant sign of estrus among the flock (P < 0.05), as analyzed using the CCDC. In the OVS group, a lower rate of mounting was observed than in the other three groups. Moreover, significantly fewer estrus behaviors were noticed in the OVS protocol group (P < 0.05). Both first service conception and overall conception rates were significantly higher (P < 0.05) in the CIDR and OVS treatment groups. In conclusion, the CIDR and OVS protocols appear to be the best practice for the synchronization of estrus for reproductive competence through the CCDC in Hanwoo cows. However, CIDR has a practical advantage over OVS with respect to estrus detection.

Concepts: Observation, Spermatozoon, Cattle, Dairy cattle, Transrectal ultrasonography, Ovulation, Artificial insemination, Amphetamine Reptile Records


The objectives of this study were to determine the feasibility of daily examination of wild-caught wood bison and to characterize the ovarian function using serial transrectal ultrasonography and blood hormone analysis. Ten 2-year-old wood bison heifers obtained from Elk Island National Park were placed in a corral adjacent to a handling system designed for restraining bison. The handling system was left open to the corral allowing the bison to explore it freely for 2 months. Active acclimation followed for a 2-week period, during which the bison were herded daily through the handling system and rewarded with whole oats. Finally, the bison were restrained in the handling system and rewarded with whole oats upon release. Once conditioned, daily transrectal examination of the ovaries was completed in 100% of attempts for 30 days (January-February) using a B-mode scanner with a 5 to 10-MHz linear array. Follicle size and numbers were recorded, and individual follicles were identified serially. Blood samples were collected daily and the serum was analyzed for FSH concentrations. Nonrandom changes were detected in the number of follicles ≥4 mm in diameter per day (P < 0.05). Each peak in follicle numbers was associated with the development of a single dominant follicle. The interval between the emergence of successive dominant follicles was 6.8 ± 0.6 days (mean ± SEM). The maximum diameter of the dominant follicle was 9.9 ± 0.4 mm. In conclusion, wild-caught wood bison were amenable to daily examination and blood sampling, and ovarian dynamics were characterized by wave-like development of anovulatory antral follicles. The demonstrated success of this approach to the study of ovarian function will be useful for characterizing the annual reproductive pattern in wood bison, which is necessary for the development of bison-specific protocols for controlling ovarian function for species conservation.

Concepts: Menopause, Ovarian follicle, Puberty, American Bison, Bison, Follicular phase, Wood Bison, Mammals of Canada


Cryogenic storage of sperm from genetically altered Xenopus improves cost effectiveness and animal welfare associated with their use in research; currently it is routine for X. tropicalis but not reliable for X. laevis. Here we compare directly the three published protocols for Xenopus sperm freeze-thaw and determine whether sperm storage temperature, method of testes maceration and delays in the freezing protocols affect successful fertilisation and embryo development in X. laevis. We conclude that the protocol is robust and that the variability observed in fertilisation rates is due to differences between individuals. We show that the embryos made from the frozen-thawed sperm are normal and that the adults they develop into are reproductively indistinguishable from others in the colony. This opens the way for using cryopreserved sperm to distribute dominant genetically altered (GA) lines, potentially saving travel-induced stress to the male frogs, reducing their numbers used and making Xenopus experiments more cost effective.

Concepts: Embryo, Developmental biology, Mesoderm, Embryology, Zygote, Liquid nitrogen, Cryobiology, Cryopreservation


Organ transplantation has been the last line of therapy for saving patients experiencing end-stage organ failure. However, the success of organ transplantation is critically dependent on the availability of donor organs. There are high expectations for research on organ regeneration as a solution to the donor shortage issue faced by transplantation medicine. Thus, generation of human organs from pluripotent stem cells is now one of the ultimate goals of regenerative medicine. In recent years, several approaches to using pluripotent stem cells to generate organs of complex structure and function have been developed. Reproductive biology plays an indispensable role in the development of innovative organ regeneration researches. In this review, we discuss the potential of the animal biotechnology aiming at making human organs using pigs as a platform.

Concepts: Biology, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Cell biology, Organ, Reproductive system, Organ transplant, Human anatomy


Assisted reproductive techniques are becoming widely applied to the breeding of endangered species, but establishing reliable protocols for the production of embryos in vitro is challenging because of the scarcity of sample material. In our study, we applied an assisted reproductive technique protocol for IVM and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), developed in the domestic cat, to oocytes retrieved from ovaries of four 2-year-old lionesses (Panthera leo) eight hours postmortem. In total, 68 cumulus-oocyte complexes of good quality were randomly distributed and cultured for 32 to 34 hours in two different maturation culture media, consisting of Medium 199 with Earle’s salts, 3 mg/mL BSA, 0.1 mg/mL cysteine, 1.4 mg/mL sodium pyruvate, 0.6 mg/mL sodium lactate, 0.15 mg/mL l-glutamine, and 0.055 mg/mL gentamicin. Hormonal supplementation of IVM_1 was 0.02 IU/mL FSH and 0.05 IU/mL LH; IVM_2 consisted of 1.64 IU/mL FSH, 1.06 IU/mL LH, and 1 μg/mL 17ß-estradiol. Differences in hormonal supplementation did not produce significant differences in oocyte maturation rates, which were 39.4% in IVM_1 and 34.3% in IVM_2. Matured oocytes were microinjected with homologous frozen-thawed spermatozoa, and subsequent cleavage rates were 30.8% and 58.3%, respectively. Half of the embryos derived from oocytes matured in IVM_1 developed into blastocysts, whereas only 28.6% of embryos from oocytes matured in IVM_2 reached the blastocyst stage. Morula stages were present from Day 6 onward, and blastocyst stages from Day 9 on, indicating a slower developmental speed in comparison with domestic cats. This is the first report of in vitro-produced blastocysts using ICSI in the lion, and the results report that IVM and ICSI can be successfully performed with cumulus-oocyte complexes retrieved from ovaries after eight hours of shipping, obtaining competent embryos in culture.

Concepts: Developmental biology, Mammal, Spermatozoon, Lion, Zygote, Blastocyst, Felidae, Tiger


In a prospective, clinical, surgery study we report here for the first time, in detail, on the surgical castration of 10 captive adult male common hippopotami (Hippopotamus amphibius). The successful procedures, a species-specific modification of standard equine castration techniques, provide valuable insight into the spatially dynamic nature of the common hippopotamus testis. The use of ultrasonography to locate the testis before and during the procedures and species-specific positioning during surgery greatly facilitated this distinctive procedure. Additionally, this surgical method provides an important additional tool for captive management of the common hippopotamus. Castration of individual males not only facilitates population control but can potentially also be employed to limit intermale aggression.

Concepts: Hippopotamus, Megafauna