The testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS) hypothesis, which proposes that common reproductive disorders of newborn and adult human males may have a common fetal origin, is largely untested. We tested this hypothesis using a rat model involving gestational exposure to dibutyl phthalate (DBP), which suppresses testosterone production by the fetal testis. We evaluated if induction of TDS via testosterone suppression is restricted to the “masculinization programming window” (MPW), as indicated by reduction in anogenital distance (AGD). We show that DBP suppresses fetal testosterone equally during and after the MPW, but only DBP exposure in the MPW causes reduced AGD, focal testicular dysgenesis, and TDS disorders (cryptorchidism, hypospadias, reduced adult testis size, and compensated adult Leydig cell failure). Focal testicular dysgenesis, reduced size of adult male reproductive organs, and TDS disorders and their severity were all strongly associated with reduced AGD. We related our findings to human TDS cases by demonstrating similar focal dysgenetic changes in testes of men with preinvasive germ cell neoplasia (GCNIS) and in testes of DBP-MPW animals. If our results are translatable to humans, they suggest that identification of potential causes of human TDS disorders should focus on exposures during a human MPW equivalent, especially if negatively associated with offspring AGD.
Sander van den Driesche, Karen R. Kilcoyne, Ida Wagner, Diane Rebourcet, Ashley Boyle, Rod Mitchell, Chris McKinnell, Sheila Macpherson, Roland Donat, Chitranjan J. Shukla, Anne Jorgensen, Ewa Rajpert-De Meyts, Niels E. Skakkebaek, Richard M. Sharpe
The placenta is a barrier against maternal-fetal transmission of pathogens. Placental infections can cause several adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth (PTB). Yet, we have limited knowledge regarding the mechanisms the placenta uses to control infections. Here, we show that autophagy, a cellular recycling pathway important for host defense against pathogens, and the autophagy gene Atg16L1 play a key role in placental defense and are negatively associated with PTB in pregnant women. First, we demonstrate that placentas from women who delivered preterm exhibit reduced autophagy activity and are associated with higher infection indicators. Second, we identify the cellular location of the autophagy activity as being in syncytial trophoblasts. Third, we demonstrate that higher levels of autophagy and ATG16L1 in human trophoblasts were associated with increased resistance to infection. Accordingly, loss of autophagy or ATG16L1 impaired trophoblast antibacterial defenses. Fourth, we show that
Bin Cao, Colin Macones, Indira U. Mysorekar
The strong association of Zika virus infection with congenital defects has led to questions of how a flavivirus is capable of crossing the placental barrier to reach the fetal brain. Here, we demonstrate permissive Zika virus infection of primary human placental macrophages, commonly referred to as Hofbauer cells, and placental villous fibroblasts. We also demonstrate Zika virus infection of Hofbauer cells within the context of the tissue ex vivo using term placental villous explants. In addition to amplifying infectious virus within a usually inaccessible area, the putative migratory activities of Hofbauer cells may aid in dissemination of Zika virus to the fetal brain. Understanding the susceptibility of placenta-specific cell types will aid future work around and understanding of Zika virus–associated pregnancy complications.
Kellie Ann Jurado, Michael K. Simoni, Zhonghua Tang, Ryuta Uraki, Jesse Hwang, Sarah Householder, Mingjie Wu, Brett D. Lindenbach, Vikki M. Abrahams, Seth Guller, Erol Fikrig
Over one-fifth of North American women of childbearing age are obese, putting these women at risk for a variety of detrimental chronic diseases. In addition, obesity increases the risk for developing major complications during pregnancy. The mechanisms by which obesity contributes to pregnancy complications and loss remain unknown. Increasing evidence indicates that obesity results in major changes to adipose tissue immune cell composition and function; whether or not obesity also affects immune function in the uterus has not been explored. Here we investigated the effect of obesity on uterine natural killer (uNK) cells, which are essential for uterine artery remodeling and placental development. Using a cohort of obese or lean women, we found that obesity led to a significant reduction in uNK cell numbers accompanied with impaired uterine artery remodeling. uNK cells isolated from obese women had altered expression of genes and pathways associated with extracellular matrix remodeling and growth factor signaling. Specifically, uNK cells were hyper-responsive to PDGF, resulting in overexpression of decorin. Functionally, decorin strongly inhibited placental development by limiting trophoblast survival. Together, these findings establish a potentially new link between obesity and poor pregnancy outcomes, and indicate that obesity-driven changes to uterine-resident immune cells critically impair placental development.
Sofie Perdu, Barbara Castellana, Yoona Kim, Kathy Chan, Lauren DeLuca, Alexander G. Beristain
Although a close connection between uterine regeneration and successful pregnancy in both humans and mice has been consistently observed, its molecular basis remains unclear. We here established a mouse model of decellularized uterine matrix (DUM) transplantation. Resected mouse uteri were processed with SDS to make DUMs without any intact cells. DUMs were transplanted into the mouse uteri with artificially induced defects, and all the uterine layers were recovered at the DUM transplantation sites within a month. In the regenerated uteri, normal hormone responsiveness in early pregnancy was observed, suggesting the regeneration of functional uteri. Uterine epithelial cells rapidly migrated and formed a normal uterine epithelial layer within a week, indicating a robust epithelial-regenerating capacity. Stromal and myometrial regeneration occurred following epithelial regeneration. In ovariectomized mice, uterine regeneration of the DUM transplantation was similarly observed, suggesting that ovarian hormones are not essential for this regeneration process. Importantly, the regenerating epithelium around the DUM demonstrated heightened STAT3 phosphorylation and cell proliferation, which was suppressed in uteri of
Takehiro Hiraoka, Yasushi Hirota, Tomoko Saito-Fujita, Mitsunori Matsuo, Mahiro Egashira, Leona Matsumoto, Hirofumi Haraguchi, Sudhansu K. Dey, Katsuko S. Furukawa, Tomoyuki Fujii, Yutaka Osuga
Preeclampsia (PE) is a disorder of pregnancy that manifests as late gestational maternal hypertension and proteinuria and can be life-threatening to both the mother and baby. It is believed that abnormal placentation is responsible for the cascade of events leading to the maternal syndrome. Embryo implantation is critical to establishing a healthy pregnancy. Defective implantation can cause adverse “ripple effects,” leading to abnormal decidualization and placentation, retarded fetal development, and poor pregnancy outcomes, such as PE and fetal growth restriction. The precise mechanism(s) of implantation defects that lead to PE remain elusive. BPH/5 mice, which spontaneously develop the cardinal features of PE, show peri-implantation defects including upregulation of Cox2 and IL-15 at the maternal-fetal interface. This was associated with decreased decidual natural killer (dNK) cells, which have important roles in establishing placental perfusion. Interestingly, a single administration of a Cox2 inhibitor (celecoxib) during decidualization restrained Cox2 and IL-15 expression, restored dNK cell numbers, improved fetal growth, and attenuated late gestational hypertension in BPH/5 female mice. This study provides evidence that decidual overexpression of Cox2 and IL-15 may trigger the adverse pregnancy outcomes reflected in the preeclamptic syndrome, underscoring the idea that Cox2 inhibitor treatment is an effective strategy for the prevention of PE-associated fetal and maternal morbidity and mortality.
Jenny L. Sones, Jeeyeon Cha, Ashley K. Woods, Amanda Bartos, Christa Y. Heyward, Heinrich E. Lob, Catherine E. Isroff, Scott D. Butler, Stephanie E. Shapiro, Sudhansu K. Dey, Robin L. Davisson
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