• Ewe breed differences in the cervical transcriptome at the follicular phase of a synchronised oestrous cycle

      Abril-Parreño, Laura; Meade, Kieran G.; Krogenæs, Anette K.; Druart, Xavier; Cormican, Paul; Fair, Sean; European Research Area Network; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc; Research Council of Norway; et al. (Biomed Central, 2022-05-11)
      Background Cervical artificial insemination (AI) with frozen-thawed semen results in unacceptably low pregnancy rates internationally. The exception is in Norway, where vaginal deposition of frozen-thawed semen to a natural oestrous routinely yields pregnancy rates in excess of 70%. Previous studies by our group has demonstrated that this is due to differences in cervical sperm transport. However, a potentially important contributory factor is that ewes are inseminated to a natural oestrous in Norway but to a synchronised oestrous across most of the rest of the world. In this study, we interrogated the gene expression of the sheep cervix of four ewe breeds with known differences in pregnancy rates following cervical AI using frozen-thawed semen under the effect of exogenous hormones to synchronise the oestrous cycle. These four ewe breeds (n = 8 to 11 ewes per breed) are from two countries: Ireland (Belclare and Suffolk; medium and low fertility, respectively) and Norway (Norwegian White Sheep (NWS) and Fur; both with high fertility compared to the Irish ewe breeds). Results RNA extracted from cervical biopsies collected from these breeds was analysed by RNA-sequencing and differential gene expression analysis. Using the low-fertility Suffolk breed as a reference level; 27, 1827 and 2641 genes were differentially expressed in Belclare, Fur and NWS ewes, respectively (P <  0.05 and FC > 1.5). Gene ontology (GO) analysis revealed that Fur and NWS had an up-regulation of enriched pathways involved in muscle contraction and development compared to Suffolk. However, there was a down-regulation of the immune response pathway in NWS compared to Suffolk. In addition, GO analysis showed similar expression patterns involved in muscle contraction, extracellular matrix (ECM) development and cell-cell junction in both Norwegian ewe breeds, which differed to the Irish ewe breeds. Conclusions This novel study has identified a number of conserved and breed-specific biological processes under the effect of oestrous synchronisation that may impact cervical sperm transport during the follicular phase of the reproductive cycle.
    • Integrated analysis of the local and systemic changes preceding the development of post-partum cytological endometritis

      Foley, Cathriona; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Callanan, John J; Whiston, Ronan; Miranda-CasoLuengo, Raúl; Lu, Junnan; Meijer, Wim G; Lynn, David J; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Meade, Kieran G (Biomed Central, 2015-10-19)
      Background The regulation of endometrial inflammation has important consequences for the resumption of bovine fertility postpartum. All cows experience bacterial influx into the uterus after calving; however a significant proportion fail to clear infection leading to the development of cytological endometritis (CE) and compromised fertility. We hypothesised that early immunological changes could not only act as potential prognostic biomarkers for the subsequent development of disease but also shed light on the pathogenesis of endometritis in the postpartum dairy cow. Methods Endometrial biopsy RNA was extracted from 15 cows at 7 and 21 days postpartum (DPP), using the Qiagen RNeasy® Plus Mini kit and quality determined using an Agilent 2100 bioanalyser. Disease status was determined by histpathology based on inflammatory cell infiltrate. RNA-seq of both mRNA and miRNA libraries were performed on an Illumina® HiSeq™ 2000. Paired reads were aligned to the bovine genome with Bowtie2 and differentially expressed genes were identified using EdgeR. Significantly over-represented Gene Ontology terms were identified using GO-seq, and pathway analysis was performed using KEGG. Quanititative real-time PCR was also performed for validation (ABI 7500 fast). Haematology was assessed using an automated ADVIA 2120 analyser. Serum proteins were evaluated by ELISA and metabolite analysis was performed using a Beckman Coulter AU 400 clinical analyser. Terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) was used to obtain fingerprints of the microbial communities present. Results Next-generation sequencing from endometrial biopsies taken at 7 DPP identified significant induction of inflammatory gene expression in all cows. Despite the common inflammatory profile and enrichment of the Toll-like receptor and NFκB pathways, 73 genes and 31 miRNAs were significantly differentially expressed between healthy cows (HC, n = 9) and cows which subsequently developed CE at 7 DPP (n = 6, FDR < 0.1). While significant differential expression of 4197 genes in the transcriptome of healthy cows between 7 and 21 DPP showed the transition from a proinflammatory to tissue profliferation and repair, only 31 genes were differentially expressed in cows with CE (FDR < 0.1), indicating the arrest of such a transition. A link betwene the dysregulated inflammatory response and the composition of the uterine microbial communities was suggested by the presence of significant differences in uterine bacterial tRFLP profiles between HC and CE groups. Furthermore, inflammatory activity was not confined to the uterus; decreased circulating granulocytes and increased Acute Phase Protein (SAA and HP) expression levels were detected in plasma at 7 DPP in cows that developed CE. Conclusion Our data suggests that the IL1 and IL17 inflammatory cascade activated early postpartum is resolved thereby restoring homeostasis in healthy cows by 21 DPP, but this transition fails to occur in cows which develop CE. Despite a common early inflammatory profile, elevated and differential expression of specific immune genes may identify cows at risk of prolonged inflammation and the development of CE postpartum.