Short Communication IXth International Conference on Boar Semen Preservation 2019

Pre-AI intrauterine seminal plasma infusions advance embryo development by up-regulating PI3K/AKT and MAPK/ERK signaling pathways? (#7.1)

Cristina A Martinez 1 2 , Josep M Cambra 1 , Alicia Nohalez 1 , Inmaculada Parrilla 1 , Jordi Roca 1 , Graça Ferreira-Dias 3 , Xiomara Lucas 1 , Emilio A Martinez 1 , Maria A Gil 1 , Heriberto Rodriguez-martinez 2 , Cristina Cuello 1 , Manuel Alvarez-Rodriguez 2
  1. Department of Medicine and Animal Surgery, International Excellence Campus for Higher Education and Research “Campus Mare Nostrum”, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain
  2. Department of Clinical & Experimental Medicine (IKE), University of Linköping, Linköping, Sweden
  3. Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal

Seminal plasma (SP) not only promotes sperm survival and fertilizing capacity, but also has the potential to affect other reproductive events, such as ovulation, conception, and pregnancy. Bioactive molecules present in SP can elicit molecular and cellular changes in the endometrium, affecting maternal environment and thus, embryo progression. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of additional doses of seminal plasma infused prior to artificial insemination (AI) on embryo kinetics and on the transcriptional performance of the endometrium. For that purpose, 36 post-weaning estrus sows received 40 mL intrauterine infusions of either SP or BTS (Control) 30 min before regular AI. At d 6 of the cycle (Day 0 = onset of estrus), sows were subjected to laparotomy to evaluate embryo viability and development staging. In addition, tissue samples from 6 pregnant sows (3 from each group) were collected for transcriptome analysis using a total of 6 arrays (PORGENE 1.0 ST GeneChip array, Affymetrix). There were no differences between groups in terms of embryo viability (~93%). However, we found significant differences in embryo developmental staging between groups. Thus, while morulae were obtained only in the 18.7% of the SP sows, that percentage was almost double (33.3%) in BTS sows. As a consequence, the percentages of embryos recovered at the morula stage was lower (P<0.05) and at the full and peri-hatching blastocyst stages was higher (P<0.05) in the sows infused with SP in comparison to those recovered in the control sows. Additionally, following statistical analysis (unadjusted p-value <0.05 and FC >1 and < -1), 1,604 endometrium transcripts were differentially expressed in the SP group compared to Controls. Collectively, an enrichment analysis revealed an overrepresentation of many genes and pathways associated with immune responses, cytokine signalling, the cell cycle, cell adhesion, and hormone responses, among others. Interestingly, among the large list of genes potentially involved in embryo development, the PI3K/AKT and MAPK/ERK signalling pathways were up-regulated in SP treated endometrium. It is known that these signal transduction pathways are key regulators of a number of cellular functions, including cell proliferation and migration, mitogenesis, differentiation, antiapoptotic processes and cell survival. Moreover, they have been implicated in the differentiation, migration and cytoskeletal remodelling of conceptus trophoblast cells during the preimplantation period. In conclusion, these results suggest that SP positively impacts pre-implantation embryo development and subsequent pregnancy, possibly through modification of the expression of genes involved in several biological process and pathways associated with embryo developmental competence. Supported by MINECO-FEDER (AGL2015-69735-R), Seneca Foundation (19892/GERM/15) and FORMAS (2017-00946).