The effect of equine metabolic syndrome on the ovarian follicular environment

  • Sessions-Bresnahan D
  • Carnevale E
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Obesity in many species is associated with reduced fertility and increased risk of metabolic disorders and cardiovascular dysfunction in offspring. Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) is associated with obesity and characterized by insulin resistance, decreased adiponectin, and elevated insulin, leptin, and pro-inflammatory cytokines. These alterations can potentially disrupt follicular development and impair fertility. We hypothesized that mares with EMS have an altered follicular environment when compared to their normal counterparts, affecting gene regulation for follicle and oocyte maturation. Samples were collected from light-horse mares (11 to 27 yr) in a clinical assisted reproductive program. Mares were screened based on phenotype. Insulin sensitivity was determined by using two proxies, the reciprocal of the square root of insulin (RISQI) and the modified insulin-to-glucose ratio (MIRG). Insulin resistant mares (RISQI < 0.32 and MIRG > 5.50) were allocated to the EMS group (n = 8), and the remaining mares were considered normal controls (CON, n = 12). Follicular fluid (FF) and granulosa cells (GC) from preovulatory follicles were aspirated 24 ± 2 h after administration of a GnRH analog (SucroMate, 0.9 to 1.4 mg, i.m.) and hCG (Chorion, 1500 to 2000 IU, i.v.). After an overnight fast, blood was collected on the morning of follicle aspiration to evaluate serum concentrations of insulin, leptin, adiponectin, and inflammatory cytokines. Expression of 32 genes related to metabolism, follicle maturation, and oocyte maturation were assessed in GC. Concentrations of insulin, leptin, adiponectin, and cytokines were highly correlated between serum and FF (P < 0.001). Insulin was lower (P < 0.001) in serum and FF of CON compared to EMS, but leptin and IL1β tended (P = 0.07 and P = 0.10, respectively) to be lower in FF of CON than EMS. Tumor necrosis factor-α in serum and FF was lower (P < 0.07 and P < 0.05, respectively) in CON than EMS. Conversely, adiponectin was higher (P < 0.05) in serum and FF in CON versus EMS. In GC from CON when compared to EMS, gene expression for epiregulin was elevated (P < 0.05) and tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase-2 tended to be lower (P = 0.09). Our findings demonstrate that the intrafollicular environment in the mare is influenced by metabolic disease, consistent with findings in other species. Influences on follicular development, oocyte maturation, and subsequent offspring by perturbations due to metabolic disease need further study.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adiponectin
  • Equine
  • Follicle
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Metabolic syndrome

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