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Zhang, L., Zhang, Z., Wang, F., Tian, X., Ji, P., & Liu, G. (2017). Effects of melatonin administration on embryo implantation and offspring growth in mice under different schedules of photoperiodic exposure. Reprod Biol Endocrinol, 15(1), 78.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Embryo implantation is crucial for animal reproduction. Unsuccessful embryo implantation leads to pregnancy failure, especially in human-assisted conception. Environmental factors have a profound impact on embryo implantation. Because people are being exposed to more light at night, the influence of long-term light exposure on embryo implantation should be explored. METHODS: The effects of long photoperiodic exposure and melatonin on embryo implantation and offspring growth were examined. Long photoperiodic exposure (18:6 h light:dark) was selected to resemble light pollution. Melatonin (10-2, 10-3, 10-4, 10-5 M) was added to the drinking water of mice starting at Day 1 (vaginal plugs) until delivery. RESULTS: Melatonin treatment (10-4,10-5 M) significantly increased litter sizes compared to untreated controls (12.9 +/- 0.40 and 12.2 +/- 1.01 vs. 11.5 +/- 0.43; P < 0.05). The most effective concentration of melatonin (10-4 M) was selected for further investigation. No remarkable differences were found between melatonin-treated mice and controls in terms of the pups' birth weights, weaning survival rates, and weaning weights. Long photoperiodic exposure significantly reduced the number of implantation sites in treated mice compared to controls (light/dark, 12/12 h), and melatonin rescued this negative effect. Mechanistic studies revealed that melatonin enhanced the serum 17beta-estradiol (E2) levels in the pregnant mice and upregulated the expression of the receptors MT1 and MT2 and p53 in uterine tissue. All of these factors may contribute to the beneficial effects of melatonin on embryo implantation in mice. CONCLUSION: Melatonin treatment was associated with beneficial effects in pregnant mice, especially those subjected to long photoperiodic exposure. This was achieved by enhanced embryo implantation. At the molecular level, melatonin administration probably increases the E2 level during pregnancy and upregulates p53 expression by activating MT1/2 in the uterus. All of the changes may improve the microenvironment of the uterus and, thus, the outcomes of pregnancy.