Progressive obesity alters the steroidogenic response to ovulatory stimulation and increases the abundance of mRNAs stored in the ovulated oocyte

William E. Pohlmeier, Fang Xie, Scott G. Kurz, Ningxia Lu, Jennifer R. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Obese women who are able to attain pregnancy are at increased risk for early-pregnancy loss due, in part, to reduced oocyte quality. We and others have demonstrated that female Lethal Yellow (LY) mice and female C57BL/6 mice fed a high fat diet (B6-HFD) exhibit phenotypes consistent with human obesity. These studies also showed that zygotes collected from LY and B6-HFD females have reduced developmental competence. The current hypothesis is that LY and B6-HFD females exhibit an abnormal response to gonadotropin stimulation compared to C57BL/6 controls fed normal rodent chow (B6-ND), resulting in the ovulation of oocytes with an altered molecular phenotype which may contribute to its reduced developmental competence. To test this hypothesis, age-matched B6-ND, B6-HFD, and LY females were stimulated with exogenous gonadotropins, then circulating hormone levels and the phenotypes of ovulated oocytes were analyzed. There was no difference in ovulation rate or in the percentage of morphologically abnormal oocytes collected from the oviduct of any females. Progesterone and progesterone/estradiol ratios, however, were increased in B6-HFD and LY compared to B6-ND females 16hr post-human chorionic gonadotropin treatment. The transcript abundance of several candidate oocyte genes was also increased in B6-HFD- and LY-derived oocytes compared to B6-ND-derived oocytes. These data suggest that increased insulin and leptin levels of obese females elevated circulating progesterone concentrations, altered transcriptional activity during oocyte growth, and/or impaired mechanisms of RNA translation and degradation during oocyte maturation. These changes in mRNA abundance likely contribute to reduced oocyte quality and the subsequent poor embryogenesis associated with obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-747
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Reproduction and Development
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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