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Shuai Li and Wipawee Winuthayanon

Animal oviducts and human Fallopian tubes are a part of the female reproductive tract that hosts fertilization and pre-implantation development of the embryo. With an increasing understanding of roles of the oviduct at the cellular and molecular levels, current research signifies the importance of the oviduct on naturally conceived fertilization and pre-implantation embryo development. This review highlights the physiological conditions within the oviduct during fertilization, environmental regulation, oviductal fluid composition and its role in protecting embryos and supplying nutrients. Finally, the review compares different aspects of naturally occurring fertilization and assisted reproductive technology (ART)-achieved fertilization and embryo development, giving insight into potential areas for improvement in this technology.

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Lin-Yu Jin, Zhen-Dong Lv, Xin-Jin Su, Shuai Xu, Hai-Ying Liu, and Xin-Feng Li

Estrogen receptors (ERs) regulate the development of the growth plate (GP) by binding to estrogen, a phenomenon that determines the growth of skeletal bone. However, the exact mechanisms underlying the regulatory effects of ERs on axial and appendicular growth plates during puberty remain unclear. In the present study, the strategy of ERβ blocking resulted in increased longitudinal elongation of the appendicular bone (P < 0.01), whereas ERα blocking suppressed appendicular elongation (P < 0.05). Blocking both ERs did not have opposite effects on axial longitudinal growth. The expression of chondrocyte proliferation genes including collagen II, aggrecan, and Sox9 and hypertrophic marker genes including collagen X, MMP13, and Runx2 was significantly increased in the growth plate of female mice treated with ERβ antagonist compared with that in the GP of control mice (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences in local insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) expression among these groups (P > 0.05), and Indian hedgehog protein (Ihh) and parathyroid-related protein (PTHrP) expressions differed among these groups (P < 0.05). ERs appeared not to affect axial bone growth during puberty in female mice (P > 0.05). Our data show that the blocking of different ER subtypes might have a region-specific influence on longitudinal appendicular and axial growth.

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Gen Chen, Xiangjuan Chen, Chao Niu, Xiaozhong Huang, Ning An, Jia Sun, Shuai Huang, Weijian Ye, Santie Li, Yingjie Shen, Jiaojiao Liang, Weitao Cong, and Litai Jin

Baicalin is the major component found in Scutellaria baicalensis root, a widely used herb in traditional Chinese medicine, which exhibits strong anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-tumor activities. The present work was devoted to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the protective effects of Baicalin against diabetes-induced oxidative damage, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. Diabetic mice, induced by streptozotocin (STZ), were treated with intraperitoneal Baicalin injections. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were cultured either in normal glucose (NG, 5.5 mM) or high glucose (HG, 33 mM) medium in the presence or absence of Baicalin for 72 h. We observed an obvious inhibition of hyperglycemia-triggered oxidative damage and inflammation in HUVECs and diabetic aortal vasculature by Baicalin, along with restoration of hyperglycemia-impaired nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) pathway activity. However, the protective effects of Baicalin almost completely abolished in HUVECs transduced with shRNA against Nrf2, but not with nonsense shRNA. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that HG decreased Akt and GSK3B phosphorylation, restrained nuclear export of Fyn and nuclear localization of Nrf2, blunted Nrf2 downstream target genes and subsequently induced oxidative stress in HUVECs. However, those destructive cascades were well prevented by Baicalin in HUVECs. Furthermore, LY294002 and ML385 (inhibitor of PI3K and Nrf2) attenuated Baicalin-mediated Nrf2 activation and the ability of facilitates angiogenesis in vivo and ex vivo. Taken together, the endothelial protective effect of Baicalin under hyperglycemia condition could be partly attributed to its role in downregulating reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inflammation via the Akt/GSK3B/Fyn-mediated Nrf2 activation.