Oxygen-sensing mechanisms and the regulation of redox-responsive transcription factors in development and pathophysiology.
How do organisms sense the amount of oxygen in the environment and respond appropriately when the level of oxygen decreases? Oxygen sensing and the molecular stratagems underlying the process have been the focus of an endless number of investigations trying to find an answer to the question: "What is the identity of the oxygen sensor?" Dynamic changes in pO2 constitute a potential signaling mechanism for the regulation of the expression and activation of reduction-oxidation (redox)-sensitive and oxygen-responsive transcription factors, apoptosis-signaling molecules and inflammatory cytokines. The transition from placental to lung-based respiration causes a relatively hyperoxic shift or oxidative stress, which the perinatal, developing lung experiences during birth. This variation in DeltapO2, in particular, differentially regulates the compartmentalization and functioning of the transcription factors hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) and nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB). In addition, oxygen-evoked regulation of HIF-1alpha and NF-kappaB is closely coupled with the intracellular redox state, such that modulating redox equilibrium affects their responsiveness at the molecular level (expression/transactivation). The differential regulation of HIF-1alpha and NF-kappaB in vitro is paralleled by oxygen-sensitive and redox-dependent pathways governing the regulation of these factors during the transition from placental to lung-based respiration ex utero. The birth transition period in vivo and ex utero also regulates apoptosis signaling pathways in a redox-dependent manner, consistent with NF-kappaB being transcriptionally regulated in order to play an anti-apoptotic function. An association is established between oxidative stress conditions and the augmentation of an inflammatory state in pathophysiology, regulated by the oxygen- and redox-sensitive pleiotropic cytokines. (+info
Maternal fish consumption and infant birth size and gestation: New York State Angler Cohort Study.
BACKGROUND: The scientific literature poses a perplexing dilemma for pregnant women with respect to the consumption of fish from natural bodies of water. On one hand, fish is a good source of protein, low in fat and a rich source of other nutrients all of which have presumably beneficial effects on developing embryos and fetuses. On the other hand, consumption of fish contaminated with environmental toxicants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) has been associated with decrements in gestation and birth size. METHODS: 2,716 infants born between 1986-1991 to participants of the New York State Angler Cohort Study were studied with respect to duration of maternal consumption of contaminated fish from Lake Ontario and its tributaries and gestation and birth size. Hospital delivery records (maternal and newborn) were obtained for 92% of infants for the ascertainment of gestation (weeks), birth size (weight, length, chest, and head circumference) and other known determinants of fetal growth (i.e., maternal parity, history of placental infarction, uterine bleeding, pregnancy loss or cigarette smoking and infant's race, sex and presence of birth defect). Duration of maternal fish consumption prior to the index infant's birth was categorized as: none; 1-2, 3-7, 8+ years, while birth weight (in grams), birth length (in centimeters), and head and chest circumference (in centimeters) were left as continuous variables in multiple linear regression models. Birth size percentiles, ponderal indices and head to chest circumference ratios were computed to further assess proportionality and birth size in relation to gestational age. RESULTS: Analysis of variance failed to identify significant mean differences in gestation or any measure of birth size in relation to duration of maternal lifetime fish consumption. Multiple linear regressions identified gestational age, male sex, number of daily cigarettes, parity and placental infarction, as significant determinants of birth size. CONCLUSIONS: The results support the absence of an adverse relation between Lake Ontario fish consumption and reduced birth size as measured by weight, length and head circumference. Biological determinants and maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy remain important determinants of birth size. (+info
Developmental dynamics of the definitive mouse placenta assessed by stereology.
The mouse is an excellent model for studying the genetic basis of placental development, but analyses are restricted by the lack of quantitative data describing normal murine placental structure. This study establishes a technique for generating such data, applies stereological techniques on systematic uniform random sections of placentas between E12.5-E18.5 of gestation (E1.0 = day of the vaginal plug), and considers the results in the context of development of the labyrinth zone. Half of each placenta was wax embedded and exhaustively sectioned to determine absolute volumes of the labyrinth zone (Lz), junctional zone (Jz), and decidua using the Cavalieri principle. The other half was resin embedded and 1-microm sections were used to generate all volume, surface, and length densities within the Lz. Maximum placental volume is reached by E16.5, whereas the Lz volume fraction increases until E18.5 at the expense of the Jz and decidua. Within the Lz, the absolute volume and surface area of maternal blood spaces (MBS) expand rapidly between E14.5 and E16.5, with no increase thereafter. In contrast, fetal capillary development is linear and continues for longer than that of the MBS. The interhemal membrane separating maternal and fetal circulations undergoes thinning prior to expansion of maternal and fetal surface areas, achieving a harmonic mean thickness of 4.39 microm by E18.5. The specific diffusion capacity for oxygen of the interhemal membrane is maximal by E16.5, which may be necessary to support rapid fetal growth until the end of gestation. (+info
Similar time restriction for intracytoplasmic sperm injection and round spermatid injection into activated oocytes for efficient offspring production.
The injection of male haploid germ cells, such as spermatozoa and round spermatids, into preactivated mouse oocytes can result in the development of viable embryos and offspring. However, it is not clear how the timing of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and round spermatid injection (ROSI) affects the production of offspring. We carried out ICSI and ROSI every 20 min for up to 4 h after the activation of mouse oocytes by Sr(2+) and compared the late-stage development of ICSI- and ROSI- treated oocytes, including the formation of pronuclei, blastocyst formation, and offspring production. The rate of pronucleus formation (RPF) after carrying out ICSI started to decrease from >95% at 100 min following oocyte activation and declined to <20% by 180 min. In comparison, RPF by ROSI decreased gradually from >70% between 0 and 4 h after activation. The RPFs were closely correlated with blastocyst formation. Offspring production for both ICSI and ROSI decreased significantly when injections were conducted after 100 min, a time at which activated oocytes were in the early G1 stage of the cell cycle. These results suggest that spermatozoa and round spermatids have different potentials for inducing the formation of a male pronucleus in activated oocytes, but ICSI and ROSI are both subject to the same time constraint for the efficient production of offspring, which is determined by the cell cycle of the activated oocyte. (+info
Tissue-specific elevated genomic cytosine methylation levels are associated with an overgrowth phenotype of bovine fetuses derived by in vitro techniques.
Epigenetic perturbations are assumed to be responsible for abnormalities observed in fetuses and offspring derived by in vitro techniques. We have designed an experiment with bovine Day 80 fetuses generated by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and artificial insemination (AI) to determine the relationship between fetal phenotype and genome-wide 5-methylcytosine (5mC) content. When compared with AI controls, SCNT and IVF fetuses displayed significantly increased body weight (61% and 28%), liver weight (100% and 36%), and thorax circumference (20% and 11%). A reduced crown-rump length:thorax circumference ratio (1.175 +/- 0.017 in SCNT and 1.292 +/- 0.018 in IVF vs. 1.390 +/- 0.018 in AI, P < 0.001 and P < 0.002) was the external hallmark of this disproportionate overgrowth phenotype. The SCNT fetuses showed significant hypermethylation of liver DNA in comparison with AI controls (3.46% +/- 0.08% vs. 3.17% +/- 0.09% 5mC, P < 0.03), and the cytosine methylation levels for IVF fetuses (3.34% +/- 0.09%) were, as observed for phenotypic parameters, intermediate to the other groups. Regressions of fetal body and liver weight and thorax circumference on 5mC content of liver DNA were positive (P < 0.073-0.079). Furthermore, a significant negative regression (P < 0.021) of the crown-rump length:thorax circumference ratio on liver 5mC was observed. The 5mC content of placental cotyledon DNA was 46% lower than in liver DNA (P < 0.0001) but did not differ among groups. These data are in striking contrast with the recently reported hypomethylation of DNA from SCNT fetuses and indicate that hypermethylation of fetal tissue, but not placenta, is linked to the overgrowth phenotype in bovine SCNT and IVF fetuses. (+info
Use of assisted reproductive technologies in the propagation of rhesus macaque offspring.
The assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) as tailored to the production of rhesus monkeys at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) are described. Efficient fertilization of mature oocytes recovered by aspiration from females subjected to follicular stimulation was achieved with fresh or frozen sperm by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Embryo development to the early cleavage stage occurred at high frequency. Cryopreserved embryos showed high postthaw survival and were also transferred in efforts to establish pregnancies. Three methods of transfer were evaluated, two involving embryo placement into the oviduct, laparoscopy and minilaparotomy, and a nonsurgical, transcervical approach that resulted in uterine deposition. Early cleaving embryos (Days 1-4) were transferred into the oviducts of synchronized recipients with optimal results and pregnancy rates of up to 36%. Pregnancy rates were similar when two fresh or frozen embryos were transferred (28- 30%), although more than two embryos had to be thawed to compensate for embryo loss during freeze-thawing. Normal gestational lengths, birth weights, and growth curves were seen with ART-produced infants compared with infants produced by natural mating in the timed mated breeding (TMB) colony at the ONPRC. In 72 singleton pregnancies established following the transfer of ART-produced embryos, the live-birth rate, at 87.5%, was statistically identical to that for the TMB colony. Further development of the ARTs should result in increasing use of these techniques to augment conventional approaches to propagating monkeys, especially those of defined genotypes. (+info
Nutritional manipulation of fetal adipose tissue deposition and uncoupling protein 1 messenger RNA abundance in the sheep: differential effects of timing and duration.
A range of epidemiological and experimental studies have indicated that suboptimal nutrition at different stages of gestation is associated with an increased prevalence of adult hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. The timing of prenatal nutrient restriction is important in determining postnatal outcomes-including obesity. The present study, aimed to determine the extent to which fetal adiposity and expression of the key thermogenic protein, uncoupling protein (UCP)1, are altered by restriction of maternal nutrient intake imposed during four different periods, starting from before conception. Maternal nutrient intake was restricted from 60 days before until 8 days after mating (periconceptional nutrient restriction; R-C), from 60 days before mating and throughout gestation (R-R), from 8 days gestation until term (C-R), or from 115 days gestation until term. Fetal perirenal adipose tissue (PAT) was sampled near to term at approximately 143 days. UCP1 mRNA, but not protein, abundance in PAT was increased in fetuses in the R-R group (C-C 63 +/- 18; R-C 83 +/- 43; C-R 103 +/- 38; R-R 167 +/- 50 arbitrary units (P < 0.05)). In contrast, the abundance of UCP1 mRNA, but not protein, in fetal PAT was decreased when maternal nutrition was restricted from 115 days gestation. The major effect of maternal nutrient restriction on adipose tissue deposition occurred in the C-R group, in which the proportion of fetal fat was doubled, whereas maternal nutrient restriction from 115 days gestation reduced fetal fat deposition. In conclusion, there are differential effects of maternal and therefore fetal nutrient restriction on UCP1 mRNA expression and fetal fat mass and these effects are dependent on the timing and duration of nutrient restriction. (+info
Fetal growth, maternal prenatal smoking, and risk of invasive meningococcal disease: a nationwide case-control study.
BACKGROUND: The prenatal period may be important for susceptibility to infections. We evaluated whether low birthweight, prematurity, and prenatal maternal smoking were associated with increased risk of invasive meningococcal disease. METHODS: We linked the Danish nationwide National Registry of Patients, the Birth Registry, and social registries to obtain data on fetal growth and social factors on 1921 cases of meningococcal disease hospitalized between 1 January, 1980 and 31 December, 1999 (median age 31 months, interquartiles 13-65 months) and 37 451 population controls. The impact of maternal smoking was examined in a subsample of 462 cases and 9240 controls born after 1990, when data on smoking became available in the Birth Registry. RESULTS: The adjusted odds ratios (OR) of meningococcal disease associated with low birthweight (<2500 g) varied between 1.6 (95% CI: 1.1, 2.3) in infants <12 months to 1.5 (95% CI: 1.0, 2.3) in children >60 months of age at hospitalization for meningococcal disease. Premature children had an increased risk of meningococcal disease during the first year of life only (adjusted OR = 1.3, 95% CI: 1.1, 1.9). The effect of low birthweight was very similar among mature and premature children. The adjusted OR for maternal smoking was 1.8 (95% CI: 1.4, 2.2). CONCLUSIONS: Low birthweight is associated with an increased risk of meningococcal disease throughout childhood, while an effect of prematurity persists only for 12 months. Maternal prenatal smoking was associated with the risk of meningococcal disease. (+info