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Z Cheng, RS Robinson, PG Pushpakumara, RJ Mansbridge, and DC Wathes

Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake in humans can affect the incidence of a variety of diseases including coronary heart disease. Feeding high PUFA diets to cows can alter the PUFA content of milk for human consumption. PUFAs supply the precursors for prostaglandin (PG) synthesis and PGs in turn influence many aspects of reproduction. This study examined the effects of a control (CONT), a high n-6 PUFA diet (derived from protected soya) and a high n-3 diet (derived from protected linseed) on uterine PG synthesis in the lactating dairy cow. Endometrial explants obtained on days 15-17 of the oestrous cycle were cultured for an initial 42 h in vitro in fully defined medium (basal production) and then challenged with control medium, oxytocin (OT; 20 or 200 nM) or calcium ionophore A23187 (CaI; 10 microM). PGF(2 alpha), PGE(2) and 6-keto-PGF(1 alpha) were measured in the spent medium. The experiments were repeated using tissue from two groups of cows, nine in Experiment 1 (three cows per diet) and seven in Experiment 2 (four CONT and three n-6). Results of the two experiments were consistent. The basal concentrations of all three PGs were significantly lower (>50% reduction) in the n-6-fed group in comparison with CONT and n-3 groups. The n-3 diet did not alter basal PGF(2 alpha) and PGE(2) but increased 6-keto-PGF(1 alpha). The n-6 diet also inhibited the ability of the tissue to respond to both OT and CaI, with significant reductions in the stimulated levels of all three PGs. In contrast, the n-3 diet only had minor effects; it did not alter the response to OT but did reduce the long-term response to CaI at 24 h post treatment. In conclusion, dietary PUFA intake can inhibit PG production in bovine endometrial explants, with a more pronounced effect following n-6 rather than n-3 supplementation. These data suggest that a high n-6 diet reduces the endometrial capacity to produce PGs and may therefore have implications for the control of luteolysis and other PG-mediated events such as ovulation.

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Z Cheng, M Elmes, SE Kirkup, DR Abayasekara, and DC Wathes

We investigated the effect of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on prostaglandin (PG) production by the uterus. A mixed population of endometrial cells (epthelium and stroma) from late-gestation ewes were cultured in defined medium containing linoleic acid (LA, 18:2, n-6), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA, 18:3, n-6) or arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4, n-6) in concentrations of 0 (control), 20 or 100 microM. After 45 h in test medium with or without added PUFAs, cells were challenged with control medium (CM), oxytocin (OT, 250 nM), lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 0.1 micro g/ml) or dexamethasone (DEX, 5 microM) for 22 h in the continued presence of the same concentration of PUFA and the medium was collected for measurement of PGF(2alpha) and PGE(2). Supplementation with LA inhibited the production of PGF(2alpha) but did not alter PGE(2), whereas GLA and AA increased production of both PGs. All PUFA supplements thus increased the ratio of PGE(2) to PGF(2alpha) (E:F ratio) two- to threefold. In control cells, OT and LPS challenges stimulated the production of PGF(2alpha) and PGE(2). In all challenge groups, the concentrations of PGF(2alpha) in response to PUFAs followed the same pattern - LA<control<;GLA<AA - but there were significant alterations in responsiveness as a result of PUFA treatment. In the cells supplemented with 100 microM AA, there was no further increase in PGF(2alpha) output in the presence of OT or LPS and when 100 microM GLA was present neither LPS nor OT stimulated PGE(2) significantly. When LPS was given to AA-supplemented cells, the E:F ratio was increased. DEX did not change PGE(2) production in control or LA-treated cells, but the cells produced significantly less PGF(2alpha), so the E:F ratio was increased. In contrast, in GLA- and AA-treated cells, DEX reduced the production of both PGF(2alpha) and PGE(2), so the E:F ratio was unaltered. In summary, the study showed altered production of PGs in the presence of different PUFAs according to their position in the n-6 metabolic pathway. The type of PUFA present affected responsiveness to OT, LPS and DEX and also changed the ratio of PGE(2) to PGF(2alpha) produced. The possible implications of this work are discussed in relation to the effect of diet on term and pre-term labour, which both require upregulation of the endometrial PG synthetic pathway.

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ST Leung, Z Cheng, EL Sheldrick, K Derecka, AP Flint, and DC Wathes

Up-regulation of endometrial oxytocin receptor (OTR) expression followed by an increase in pulsatile endometrial prostaglandin (PG) F(2alpha) secretion causes luteolysis in cattle. Inhibition of luteolysis is essential for the maternal recognition of pregnancy but also occurs in association with endometritis. The factors regulating OTR expression at this time are unclear. The OTR gene promoter region contains binding elements for acute phase proteins but their function has not been established. This study investigated the effects of various cytokines on OTR expression and on PGF(2alpha) and PGE(2) production in explant cultures of bovine endometrium. Endometrium was collected in the late luteal phase (mean day of cycle 15.4+/-0.50) or early luteolysis (mean day of cycle 16.4+/-0.24) as determined by the initial concentration of endometrial OTR. Explants were treated for 48 h with: (i) lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and/or dexamethasone (DEX), (ii) ovine interferon-tau (oIFN-tau), or (iii) human recombinant interleukin (IL)-1alpha, -2 or -6. OTR mRNA was then measured in the explants by in situ hybridisation and the medium was collected for measurement of PGF(2alpha) and PGE(2) by RIA. LPS treatment stimulated production of PGF(2alpha), whereas DEX either alone or in combination with LPS was inhibitory to both PGF(2alpha) and PGE(2). Neither of these treatments altered OTR mRNA expression. oIFN-tau reduced OTR mRNA expression but stimulated production of both PGF(2alpha) and PGE(2). In endometrial samples collected in the late luteal phase, IL-1alpha, -2 and -6 all inhibited OTR mRNA expression, but IL-1alpha and -2 both stimulated PGF(2alpha) production. In contrast, when endometrium was collected in early luteolysis, none of the interleukins altered OTR expression or caused a significant stimulation of PGF(2alpha) production but IL-2 increased PGE(2). Neither IL-1alpha nor -2 altered OTR promoter activity in Chinese hamster ovary cells transfected with a bovine OTR promoter/chloramphenicol acetyl transferase reporter gene construct. In conclusion, the action of interleukins on both OTR mRNA expression and endometrial prostaglandin production alters around luteolysis. Pro-inflammatory interleukins suppress OTR expression in the late luteal phase, while LPS stimulates PGF(2alpha) without altering OTR mRNA expression. IL-I and -2 and LPS are therefore unlikely to initiate luteolysis but may cause raised production of PGF(2alpha) during uterine infection.

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Z Cheng, M Elmes, S E Kirkup, E C Chin, D R E Abayasekara, and D C Wathes

Polyunsaturated fatty acids derived from the diet are incorporated into cell membranes where they act as precursors for prostaglandin (PG) synthesis. Linoleic acid (LA; 18:2 n-6) is a major constituent of plant oils and its consumption in Westernized populations is increasing. This study investigated the influence of LA on PG production by the uterus and placenta. Pregnant ewes were fed a control or an LA-enriched diet. Oxytocin (OT) was injected on day 45 (early) or day 133 (late) of gestation to measure the release of 13,14-dihydro-15-keto PGF (PGFM). Ewes were killed on day 46 or day 138 for collection of uterine intercaruncular endometrium and fetal allantochorion. Basal and stimulated PG release from explant cultures was assessed before and after in vitro treatment with OT, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), dexamethasone (DEX) or calcium ionophore (CaI). Expression of cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2 was determined by Western blot in endometrium of late-gestation ewes. Circulating PGFM levels in vivo did not differ according to diet but there were highly significant differences in the release of PGs in vitro. Basal production of PGFand PGE2 by the endometrium and of PGE2 by the allantochorion were all higher in tissues from LA-supplemented ewes. Endometrial tissues produced more PG following OT and CaI treatment, whereas DEX inhibited production of both PGs at both stages of gestation. In allantochorion collected at day 46 LPS did not significantly alter PGE2 release and DEX increased output, whereas at day 138 LPS was stimulatory but DEX was inhibitory. These data show that a high-LA diet can significantly increase the ability of both endometrium and placental tissues to produce PGs in vitro. This effect of diet may only become apparent after a sustained period of PG release, so was not seen following the brief pulse caused by OT treatment in vivo. As COX protein levels were unaltered, the main influence was likely to be via conversion of LA to arachidonic acid, providing an increased supply of precursor. These results support previous studies which suggest that alterations in dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids may influence the time of labour.