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B Berisha, D Schams, M Kosmann, W Amselgruber, and R Einspanier

Locally produced growth factors may have important modulatory roles in final ovarian follicular growth. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible participation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF2) in bovine follicles during final growth. Ovaries were collected from a slaughterhouse within 10-20 min after exsanguination. A classification of follicles into five groups (<0.5; >0.5-5; >5-20; >20-180; >180 ng/ml) was performed according to the follicular fluid (FF) oestradiol-17 beta content. For a better characterisation of classes the mRNA expressions of FSH receptor, LH receptor and aromatase cytochrome P450 in theca interna (TI) and granulosa cells (GC) were determined. Analysis of VEGF transcript by RT-PCR showed that GC and theca cells express predominantly the smallest isoforms (VEGF(121) and VEGF(165)). VEGF mRNA expression in both tissues (TI and GC) and VEGF protein concentration in total follicle tissue increased significantly (and correlated) with developmental stages of follicle growth. The expression of mRNA for VEGF receptor (VEGFR)-1 and VEGFR-2 was very weak in GC, without any regulatory change during final follicle growth. In contrast, TI showed strong expression of mRNA for both receptors in all follicle classes examined. VEGF protein concentrations in FF increased significantly and continuously to maximum levels in preovulatory follicles. As shown by immunohistochemistry, VEGF protein was clearly localised in TI and GC of preovulatory follicles. FGF2 and FGF receptor (FGFR) mRNA expression in TI increased significantly during final growth of follicles. In contrast, the FGF2 and FGFR mRNA expression in GC was very weak and without any regulatory change during follicle growth. Histological observation revealed that FGF2 protein was localised in theca tissue (cytoplasm of endothelial cells and pericytes) but not in GC. Our results suggest that VEGF and FGF families are involved in the proliferation of capillaries that accompanies the selection of the preovulatory follicle resulting in an increased supply of nutrients and precursors, and therefore supporting the growth of the dominant follicle.

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D Schams, S Kohlenberg, W Amselgruber, B Berisha, MW Pfaffl, and F Sinowatz

It is now well established that oestrogen and progesterone are absolutely essential for mammary gland development. Lactation can be induced in non-pregnant animals by sex steroid hormone treatment. Most of the genomic actions of oestrogens are mediated by two oestrogen receptors (ER)-alpha and ERbeta, and for gestagens in ruminants by the progesterone receptor (PR). Our aim was the evaluation of mRNA expression and protein (localisation and Western blotting) during mammogenesis, lactogenesis, galactopoiesis (early, middle and late) and involution (8, 24, 28, 96-108 h and 14-28 days after the end of milking) in the bovine mammary gland (total no. 53). During these stages, the mRNA was assessed by means of real-time RT-PCR (LightCycler). The protein for ERalpha, ERbeta and PR was localised by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. The mRNA expression results indicated the existence of ERalpha, ERbeta and PR in bovine mammary gland. Both ERalpha and PR are expressed in fg/ micro g total RNA range. The highest mRNA expression was found for ERalpha and PR in the tIssue of non-pregnant heifers, followed by a significant decrease to a lower level at the time of lactogenesis with low concentrations remaining during lactation and the first 4 weeks of involution. In contrast, the expression of ERbeta was about 1000-fold lower (ag/ micro g total RNA) and showed no clear difference during the stages examined, with a significant increase only 2-4 weeks after the end of milking. Immunolocalisation for ERalpha revealed a strong positive staining in nuclei of lactocytes in non-pregnant heifers, became undetectable during pregnancy, lactogenesis and lactation, and was again detectable 14-28 days after the end of milking. In contrast, PR was localised in the nuclei of epithelial cells in the mammary tIssue of non-pregnant heifers, in primigravid animals, and during late lactation and involution. During lactogenesis, peak and mid lactation, fewer nuclei of epithelial cells were positive, but increased staining of the cytoplasm of epithelial cells was obvious. ERalpha and ERbeta protein was found in all mammary gland stages examined by Western blotting. In contrast to mRNA expression, the protein signal for ERalpha was weaker in the tIssue of non-pregnant heifers and during involution (4 weeks). ERbeta protein showed a stronger signal (two isoform bands) in non-pregnant heifers and 4 weeks after the end of milking. This correlated with the mRNA expression data. Three isoforms of PR (A, B and C) were found by Western blotting in the tIssue of non-pregnant heifers, but only isoform B remained during the following stages (lactogenesis, galactopoiesis and involution). In conclusion, the mRNA expression and protein data for ER and PR showed clear regulatory changes, suggesting involvement of these receptors in bovine mammary gland development and involution.