Research team

Veterinary physiology and biochemistry

Expertise

On our laboratory we investigate the importance of maternal metabolic health on reproduction and fertility results. More specifically, we investigate the effect at the level of the oocyte and the pre-implantation embryo. Also the effect of maternal nutrition is very important and can alter the quality of the very young embryo, the chance of a succesful pregnancy and the health of the offspring. specific research: analyses to assess metabolic health (blood, tissue sample) In vitro cell cultures, in vitro fertilisation and embryo culture assisted reproductive techniques analyses cell physiology, cell metabolism, trascriptome and epigenome experimental design field trials (dairy cow settings)

The link between mitochondrial dysfunction and epigenetic alterations in metabolically compromised oocytes: a key pathway to subfertility and a target to improve embryo quality and offspring health. 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2022

Abstract

Maternal metabolic disorders, e.g. obesity, affect millions worldwide and are known to cause subfertility. Altered ovarian micro-environment and the direct impact on oocyte quality is a key factor in this pathogenesis. The oocyte undergoes dynamic epigenetic reprogramming during normal follicular development. Timely acquisition of epigenetic modifications is critical for genomic imprinting and regulation of transcription during subsequent development. Dysregulated oocytes carry persistent epigenetic defects that harm offspring health. Recent insights from somatic cells and cancer biology show that mitochondria are the machinery by which metabolic changes can translate into epigenetic (dys)regulation. This is due to altered bioenergetics or changed availability of intermediate products needed for the establishment of epigenetic marks. We learned that mitochondrial dysfunction is a main cause of reduced oocyte quality under metabolic stress. Fundamental understanding of the mitochondrial-nuclear communication in growing oocytes is lacking but crucial for the development of efficient interventions to improve oocyte quality and fertility and for the protection of embryo quality and offspring health. We aim to examine the direct link between mitochondrial dysfunction in growing oocytes and epigenetic alterations, to study if these alterations are preventable or reversible using mitochondrial targeted treatments, and to test the impact of these treatments on the offspring's health.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

An integrated multi-purpose basic infrastructure for dynamic and sensitive metabolic profiling of cells and embryos. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

Mitochondria are the driving force behind virtually all vital cellular processes, including cellular proliferation, differentiation, cell death and epigenetic regulation. Consequently, their dysfunction is intricately connected to altered metabolic states and disease progression. We aim at acquiring a Seahorse XFp Analyzer, which can directly measure mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis through Oxygen Consumption Rate (OCR) and Extracellular Acidification Rate (ECAR) in different biological samples. Determination of cellular metabolic phenotype and mitochondrial activity is crucial for precise characterization of the research models and the pathophysiological alterations studied in various research disciplines across the University of Antwerp; including reproductive biology and toxicology, cell biology, neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular function, cancer, obesity, diabetes, metabolic disorders, immunology, virology and toxicology, amongst others. This is also a key for drug screening and development of new treatment strategies. Seahorse XF analyzers offer the most sensitive and accurate technology with the highest throughput compared to other alternatives. It has contributed to ground-breaking discoveries demonstrated in an increasing number of publications in different research fields about the critical role of metabolism in a wide variety of diseases. It has been successfully applied on various types of cells and tissues including mammalian gametes, primary cells, adherent and suspension cell lines, cells differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells, isolated mitochondria, 3D cultures, Zebrafish and mammalian embryos, roundworms, fruit flies and yeast. Adding to the broad applicability of the platform, the XF technology employs a label-free, non-invasive methodology allowing samples to be used post-measurement for other investigations. The Seahorse XFp Analyzer will directly contribute to several ongoing and future research within laboratories belonging to different departments and faculties at UA. Furthermore, this new platform will not only facilitate our on-site accessibility, but will also increase our national and international competitiveness. It will further support multidisciplinary networking and collaboration and shall further increase our scientific research excellence.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Unraveling the effects of maternal metabolic stress on the uterine environment: focusing on the importance of extracellular vesicles for pre-implantation embryo development in a dairy cow model. 01/11/2019 - 31/10/2022

Abstract

In humans, female infertility is an ongoing problem with an estimated prevalence of around 10%. Worldwide, obesity and overweight reached epidemic proportions and there is strong evidence for their link with infertility. The metabolic profile of obese women is commonly characterized by altered levels of blood parameter values. The latter is well reflected in the reproductive fluids and is believed to negatively affect fertility. Recent studies are shedding light on new forms of embryo–maternal communication via the delivery and/or exchange of extracellular vesicles, newly identified information carriers that exist in the uterine fluid. Animal models are valuable for basic and applied research in the field of reproductive biology especially due to ethical limitations and restricted availability of human biological material. Due to many similarities between bovine and human reproductive physiology, the cow has become a well-established and relevant model for human reproductive research. We hypothesise metabolic stress, as similarly described between obese women and lactating cow, is a key role player negatively affecting the uterine environment during early pregnancy. To proof this theory, we aim to perform novel in vivo and in vitro studies to unravel factors affecting the embryo-maternal cross talk in metabolically stressed dairy cows, focusing on the role of extracellular vesicles

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Fundamental understanding and development of preconception care strategies to improve maternal fertility and to protect offspring's health in obese individuals 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

Obesity is becoming a global threat, reducing mother's health and reproductive capacities and affecting the offspring's health. Clear preconception care guidelines for obese future mothers are lacking. Clinical studies are flawed and fundamental studies in basic animal models are scarce. The importance of preconception weight loss on reproduction and baby's health is heavily debated and has never been investigated in detail. This project aims to uncover the role and the importance of clinically relevant preconception care advices to obese women planning for pregnancy. To do so, we propose strategically designed fundamental obese mouse models to assess the impact of preconception weight loss, diet normalization, increased physical activity, omega-3 rich diet or the combination thereof. We will focus on four distinct major research challenges: 1) can we find improvements of mother's metabolic profile before conception in relation to the observed weight loss; 2) does the mother's own fertility success increase; 3) can we improve the postnatal health of the offspring and 4) can we safeguard the offspring's reproductive physiology. Physiological and in depth molecular outcome parameters will be combined to generate a clear and integrated view on the effects of preconception care lifestyle interventions. If successful, these novel insights will be the basis for developing future awareness and education programs aiming at improved human maternal health at the time of conception.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Maternale obesitas en "fetal programming": de gevolgen voor de voortplantingsfysiologie van de nakomelingen. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

A disturbed maternal metabolism like in obesity or type II diabetes has clearly been associated with disappointing fertility. We extensively showed that such metabolic disorders have direct effects on the micro-environment of the growing and maturing oocyte, ultimately leading to reduced oocyte and embryo quality. Obesity is a global health threatening problem and recent studies indicated that maternal obesity may result in significant health issues in the offspring. More in depth mechanistic research clearly pointed out the importance of uterine programming in early pregnancy. It is not known however whether the metabolic status of obesity as such and/or potential direct effects of the typical fat rich western type diet are responsible for these observations. Based on the epidemiological relevance of obesity and hypercholesterolemia we hypothesize that obesity or an obesogenic diet of the mother around conception or during the entire pregnancy will alter the micro-environment of the growing embryo and fetus. This will change uterine programming ultimately leading to compromised offspring's health and reproductive physiology. To systematically investigate this hypothesis, we will feed female LDLR knock-out mice (LDLR-/-) an obesogenic diet A) several weeks before conception resulting in maternal obesity at conception or B) solely around conception or C) throughout the entire pregnancy. The offspring will be cross-fostered upon birth and will be used to study the general health of the offspring, the ovarian follicular reserve and the process of folliculo- and oogenesis, the offspring's pre-implantation embryo physiology and gene expression pattern and the receptivity of the offspring's uterus to support full pregnancy resulting in healthy offspring. By using this strategic experimental model we will be able to find the most sensitive window during pregnancy for uterine programming of reproduction, and it allows us to study the effects on every specific step on reproductive functioning. We believe that this project proposal may significantly contribute to the concept of "Developmental Origin of Health and Fertility" by further spreading the knowledge that epigenetic effects of maternal metabolism and diet may jeopardize health but also fertility in the offspring.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Development of strategic preconception care to improve maternal fertility and protect offspring's health in obese individuals: steps towards evidence based clinical advice. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

Obesity is becoming a global threat, reducing mother's health and reproductive capacities and affecting the offspring's health. Clear preconception care guidelines for obese future mothers are completely lacking. Clinical studies are flawed and more fundamental studies in basic animal models are very scarce. The importance of preconception weight loss on reproduction and baby's health is heavily debated and never been investigated in detail. This research project aims to propose strategically designed animal research models to provide relevant scientific evidence for effective and sustainable preconception care advices to obese women planning for pregnancy. To do so, we will assess the impact of preconception weight loss, diet normalization, increased physical activity, omega-3 rich diet or the combination thereof in obese outbred mother mice on four distinct major outcome parameters: 1) improvement of mother's metabolic profile before conception in relation to the observed weight loss; 2) mother's own fertility success; 3) postnatal health of the offspring and 4) offspring's reproductive physiology. Effective guidelines for preconception care lifestyle interventions in obese patients will drastically lower the (public) health care cost associated with assisted reproduction and should maximally safeguard the health of the baby. The data generated will be the basis for awareness and education programs aiming at improved maternal health at the time of conception.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The first embryo-dependent and -independent programming of endometrial function in early pregnancy: a bovine model. 01/03/2018 - 31/08/2018

Abstract

Subfertility represents a major problem in domestic animals and humans. In cattle but also in women, up to 40% of total embryonic losses occur between days 7 and 16 of pregnancy, indicating that early embryonic mortality is a major cause of reproductive failure. A finely tuned synchrony between the competent embryo and a receptive endometrium is the key for optimal embryo development and the establishment of a successful pregnancy. Several studies have indicated the existence of complex paracrine and endocrine in vivo communication between early embryo and the maternal tract in mammals. However, so far there is no evidence that the embryo significantly interacts with the endometrium before elongation in the cow (begins 13 days post-mating) or before real implantation in human (day 10-17), while most of the early embryonic losses happen at that time. To understand the pathways of early pregnancy loss we have to elucidate the physiological molecular and biochemical processes underpinning and regulating the earliest maternal-embryonic cross talk upon the moment of embryo arrival in the uterus. In the present project, using the cow as a proven research model to study the very first developmental stages of the pre-implantation embryo, our central aim is to study the embryo/conceptus and endocrine programming of the endometrium to support pregnancy success. In the first part of the PhD research (Milestones 1 and 2, conducted at the University of São Paulo) we hypothesized that exposure to an embryo changes the abundance of specific transcripts and the biochemical composition of the uterine fluid in the cranial region of the pregnant uterine horn. As such an effect is likely to be very local in nature, we developed an in vivo model that allowed sampling the endometrium closer to the embryo (Sponchiado et al., 2017). To limit the use of experimental animals, in the second part of the PhD research (Milestone 3), we propose to use an innovative in vitro co-culture system to investigate the nature of the specific interaction between bovine embryos and endometrial epithelial cells and how this ultimately may affect early embryo quality. This part of the project will be conducted at the University of Antwerp. The proposed combination of in vivo and in vitro systems with state-of-the art analytical tools of transcriptome and metabolomic research should reveal a plethora of candidate genes and bioactive molecules to understand the pathways of the very first embryo-maternal dialogue. The very first communication between the mother and her embryo is undoubtedly one of the most exciting processes in reproductive biology. The knowledge of these mechanisms should help to understand the problem of early embryo mortality and pregnancy loss leading to disappointing fertility results. Only then it will be possible to build on preventive and even therapeutic measures impacting in pregnancy success both in human and agricultural application.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

reproduction as the cornerstone for sustainability in the dairy business: feeding for optimal fertility 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

This project focuses on how strategically applied anti-oxidants in the ratio can improve dairy cow fertility through an improved oocyte and embryo quality. The research will focus on very specific parameters of the oocyte's and embryo's micro-environment and of the quality of the female gamete.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Mitochondria take centre stage: pathways to reduced oocyte quality and opportunities for curative strategies under maternal metabolic stress conditions. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

Infertility is a major socio-economic problem affecting millions worldwide and is specifically linked to maternal obesity and other (diet induced) metabolic disorders. Understanding the mechanisms by which altered metabolism affect fertility is crucial for successful interventions. Mitochondria are the power house within the oocyte. Reduced somatic cell mitochondrial function occurs early in the pathogenesis of metabolic diseases. This is mainly due to the lipotoxic effects of elevated free fatty acid concentrations in blood. For the oocyte to be developmentally competent, the number and function of mitochondria should reach a certain threshold. There are several thousands of mitochondria in the mature oocyte derived from about 20 mitochondria in the germ cell. In addition to their bio-energetic roles, mitochondria are also sensors of stress. Oxidative stress and associated cellular damage elicit stress signalling between the mitochondria and the nucleus to start a protective machinery. The effects of metabolic stress on mitochondrial replication and stress responses during oocyte growth and subsequent embryo development are not known. In this project we will use in vitro and in vivo animal models to study mitochondrial functions and stress responses under maternal metabolic stress conditions in growing oocytes. Defect-based protective and rescue interventions will also be tested to investigate opportunities for curative interventions.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Maternal obesity and uterine programming: the consequences for the offspring's reproductive physiology. 01/10/2016 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

A disturbed maternal metabolism like in obesity or type II diabetes has clearly been associated with disappointing fertility. We extensively showed that such metabolic disorders have direct effects on the micro-environment of the growing and maturing oocyte, ultimately leading to reduced oocyte and embryo quality. Obesity is a global health threatening problem and recent studies indicated that maternal obesity may result in significant health issues in the offspring. More in depth mechanistic research clearly pointed out the importance of uterine programming in early pregnancy. It is not known however whether the metabolic status of obesity as such and/or potential direct effects of the typical fat rich western type diet are responsible for these observations. Based on the epidemiological relevance of obesity and hypercholesterolemia we hypothesize that obesity or an obesogenic diet of the mother around conception or during the entire pregnancy will alter the micro-environment of the growing embryo and fetus. This will change uterine programming ultimately leading to compromised offspring's health and reproductive physiology. To systematically investigate this hypothesis, we will feed female LDLR knock-out mice (LDLR-/-) an obesogenic diet A) several weeks before conception resulting in maternal obesity at conception or B) solely around conception or C) throughout the entire pregnancy. The offspring will be cross-fostered upon birth and will be used to study the general health of the offspring, the ovarian follicular reserve and the process of folliculo- and oogenesis, the offspring's pre-implantation embryo physiology and gene expression pattern and the receptivity of the offspring's uterus to support full pregnancy resulting in healthy offspring. By using this strategic experimental model we will be able to find the most sensitive window during pregnancy for uterine programming of reproduction, and it allows us to study the effects on every specific step on reproductive functioning. We believe that this project proposal may significantly contribute to the concept of "Developmental Origin of Health and Fertility" by further spreading the knowledge that epigenetic effects of maternal metabolism and diet may jeopardize health but also fertility in the offspring.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

High non-esterified fatty acid concentrations during preimplantation embryo development: Consequences for female fertility and offspring's health. 01/10/2015 - 11/11/2017

Abstract

To further expand on this intriguing patho-phsyiological role of elevated NEFA in the problem of subfertility, it need to be addressed whether NEFA can induce epigenetic changes and whether this affects further embryo development and postnatal health. Therefore, this research proposal concentrates on the effect of oocyte maturation under elevated NEFA conditions on DNA methylation patterns in Day 7 embryos, on further pre-implantation in vivo development and on postnatal health and growth. A state of the art in vitro embryo culture and embryo transfer protocols will be used combined with advanced molecular techniques. The integration of data on Day 7 embryo physiology, DNA methylation, further development and postnatal health could provide key metabolic information on the role of elevated NEFA concentrations in reproductive failure.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Maternal metabolic disorders and early embryonic loss: pathways to bridge the gap between embryo quality and endometrial receptivity. 01/10/2015 - 31/08/2017

Abstract

Metabolic disorders have a profound effect on many aspects of reproduction. High rates of early embryonic loss are a major issue. Upon arrival in the uterus, the proportion of surviving embryos drops off rapidly, which points towards troubled first interactions between embryonic and endometrial tissues. Recent insights suggest that embryo energy metabolism can be involved, as nutrient-sensing pathways regulate differentiation, the latter being crucial to guarantee the first interplay between embryonic and endometrial cells. During the critical first week of development, the embryo has a remarkable metabolic plasticity that allows to grow and develop, even under suboptimal nutrient environments. At the blastocyst stage, this early metabolic adaptation may come at a cost, ultimately leading to pregnancy failure. Herein, we hypothesise that suboptimal metabolic conditions in the early environment of the embryo can impact on the differentiation signature of the resultant trophoblast cells. This might be 'sensed' by the endometrium. We also propose that a differentiated endometrium has the potency to reset and rebalance the embryonic metabolism. Embryo and endometrial 'go' or 'no-go' responses will be studied using bovine in vitro and in vivo set-ups. While embryo implantation varies among species, the initial events between trophoblast and endometrial cells are shared among mammals, which implies that crossspecies lessons can be learned from the cow.

Researcher(s)

  • Promotor: Leroy Jo
  • Fellow: Van Hoeck Veerle

Research team(s)

Maternal obesity and uterine programming: the consequences for the offspring's reproductive physiology. 01/10/2014 - 08/05/2015

Abstract

A disturbed maternal metabolism like in obesity or type II diabetes has clearly been associated with disappointing fertility. We extensively showed that such metabolic disorders have direct effects on the micro-environment of the growing and maturing oocyte, ultimately leading to reduced oocyte and embryo quality. Obesity is a global health threatening problem and recent studies indicated that maternal obesity may result in significant health issues in the offspring. More in depth mechanistic research clearly pointed out the importance of uterine programming in early pregnancy. It is not known however whether the metabolic status of obesity as such and/or potential direct effects of the typical fat rich western type diet are responsible for these observations. Based on the epidemiological relevance of obesity and hypercholesterolemia we hypothesize that obesity or an obesogenic diet of the mother around conception or during the entire pregnancy will alter the micro-environment of the growing embryo and fetus. This will change uterine programming ultimately leading to compromised offspring's health and reproductive physiology. To systematically investigate this hypothesis, we will feed female LDLR knock-out mice (LDLR-/-) an obesogenic diet A) several weeks before conception resulting in maternal obesity at conception or B) solely around conception or C) throughout the entire pregnancy. The offspring will be cross-fostered upon birth and will be used to study the general health of the offspring, the ovarian follicular reserve and the process of folliculo- and oogenesis, the offspring's pre-implantation embryo physiology and gene expression pattern and the receptivity of the offspring's uterus to support full pregnancy resulting in healthy offspring. By using this strategic experimental model we will be able to find the most sensitive window during pregnancy for uterine programming of reproduction, and it allows us to study the effects on every specific step on reproductive functioning. We believe that this project proposal may significantly contribute to the concept of "Developmental Origin of Health and Fertility" by further spreading the knowledge that epigenetic effects of maternal metabolism and diet may jeopardize health but also fertility in the offspring.

Researcher(s)

  • Promotor: Leroy Jo
  • Co-promotor: Schrijvers Dorien
  • Fellow: Karamtzioti Paraskevi

Research team(s)

Equipment for high-speed refrigerated, preparative ultracentrifugation, automated gradient formation and fraction collection and analysis. 19/05/2014 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Hercules Foundation. UA provides the Hercules Foundation research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Pathways to subfertility: elevated non-esterified fatty acid concentrations as the causative link between maternal metabolic disorders and reduced embryo quality. 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

This research project concentrates on the effect of oocyte maturation, fertilization and embryo culture under high NEFA conditions on fertilization rate, DNA transcription and methylation patterns in Day 7 embryos.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Maternal metabolic disorders and the consequences for the egg cell and embryo quality: the impact of increased Free fatty acid concentrations during egg cell maturation on the development and differentiation of the pre-implantation embryo. 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Flemish Public Service. UA provides the Flemish Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

High non-esterified fatty acid concentrations during preimplantation embryo development: Consequences for female fertility and offspring's health. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

To further expand on this intriguing patho-phsyiological role of elevated NEFA in the problem of subfertility, it need to be addressed whether NEFA can induce epigenetic changes and whether this affects further embryo development and postnatal health. Therefore, this research proposal concentrates on the effect of oocyte maturation under elevated NEFA conditions on DNA methylation patterns in Day 7 embryos, on further pre-implantation in vivo development and on postnatal health and growth. A state of the art in vitro embryo culture and embryo transfer protocols will be used combined with advanced molecular techniques. The integration of data on Day 7 embryo physiology, DNA methylation, further development and postnatal health could provide key metabolic information on the role of elevated NEFA concentrations in reproductive failure.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Can antioxidants improve fertility in highly productive dairy cattle? 01/07/2013 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Province of Antwerp. UA provides the Province of Antwerp research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

BOF: 1 year fellowship. 01/01/2013 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

This project represents a research contract awarded by the University of Antwerp. The supervisor provides the Antwerp University research mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions stipulated by the university.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The direct effects of elevated serum free fatty acid concentrations on the viability of ovarian follicles and the oocyte's developmental capacity. 01/10/2011 - 06/10/2013

Abstract

Previous research work revealed that metabolic changes, associated with the growing incidence of obese individuals and diabetics, might have harmful repercussions for the reproductive outcome. The consequences of hyperglycemia, due to obesity and diabetes, have already been investigated thoroughly in rats and mice. This research project rather involves another feature of these metabolic pathologies: the high free fatty acid concentrations in blood. The interest of the human assisted reproduction society in a bovine model to assess the influence of free fatty acids on the oocytes developmental competence, on the viability and function of the granulosa cells and the inquisitiveness to the underlying mechanism of these potential effects, imposes us to further research.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Ilama/alpaca immunisation and blood collection. 15/05/2011 - 14/05/2012

Abstract

This project represents a formal service agreement between UA and on the other hand VIB. UA provides VIB research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The consequences of high free fatty acid concentrations in the follicular microenvironment on follicular growth and on metabolic, genetic and epigenetic quality parameters of the oocyte and pre-implantation embryo. 07/03/2011 - 05/03/2013

Abstract

The project focuses on the long term culture of pre-antral follicles opens a whole new approach and frame work making it possible to study the effects of maternal nutrition and metabolism on the pre-ovulatory follicles and growing and maturing oocytes.

Researcher(s)

  • Promotor: Leroy Jo
  • Fellow: Arias Alvarez Maria

Research team(s)

The consequences of high free fatty acid concentrations in the follicular microenvironment on folliculogenesis and on metabolic, genetic and epigenetic quality parameters of the oocyte and pre-implantation embryo. 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

A disturbed maternal metabolism may induce disappointing fertility and may jeopardize the offspring's health. Only recently, the importance of the early developmental stages in life has gained scientific attention in subfertility research. This project focuses on the metabolic and (epi)genetic consequences of long-term elevated non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) serum concentrations in the dam on ovarian physiology, oocyte and embryo quality. Elevated NEFA cocnetrations are a key factor in several metabolic disorders such as diabetes, negative energy balance and obesitas and is typical for lipolysis. Previous research showed already that these elevated NEFA concentrations are reflected in the follicular fluid of the dominant follicle and that they cause a reduction in the oocyte's developmental competence. To mimic the in vivo situation even better and to substantiate the causative role of elevated NEFA in the pathogenesis of subfertility, a long term exposure model during the process of follicular growth should be developed. Therefore murine secondary follicles will be isolated and will be cultured for 12 days. These growing and maturing follicles will be exposed to elevated NEFA conditions and the effects on folliculogenesis, oocyte developmental competence and embryo quality will be studied in detail.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The consequences of high free fatty acid concentrations in the micro-environment of the oocyte and zygote on metabolic, genetic and epigenetic quality parameters of the pre-implantation embryo. 01/07/2010 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

A disturbed maternal metabolism may induce disappointing fertility and may jeopardize the offspring's health. Only recently, the importance of the early developmental stages in life has gained scientific attention in the study of the pathogenesis of subfertility. This project focuses on the metabolic and (epi)genetic consequences of long-term elevated non-esterified fatty acid serum concentrations in the dam on folliculogenesis, oocyte developmental competence and embryo quality.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Scientific research on food safety, health and animal welfare (EMBRYOSCREEN). 01/04/2010 - 28/02/2015

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Federal Public Service. UA provides the Federal Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The effect of dietary poly-unsaturated fatty acids on the composition of follicular fluid and the consequences for oocyte and embryo quality. A combined bovine in vivo and in vitro model. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

Making the fatty acid composition of the human diet more poly-unsaturated is generally proposed as beneficial for health. This combined in vivo and in vitro bovine research model will elucidate the direct consequences of such a fatty acid shift on follicular fluid composition, on oocyte and embryo quality. Earlier work on dairy cows revealed several contradicting results, indicating the need for more in depth research.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The influence of the metabolic status of the dam at conception on the glucose metabolism of the newborn calf. 04/12/2009 - 31/10/2011

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Province of Antwerp. UA provides the Province of Antwerp research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The direct effects of elevated serum free fatty acids concentrations on the viability of ovarian follicles and the oocyte's developmental capacity: an animal model. 01/10/2009 - 09/11/2011

Abstract

Previous research work revealed that metabolic changes, associated with the growing incidence of obese individuals and diabetics, might have harmful repercussions for the reproductive outcome. The consequences of hyperglycemia, due to obesity and diabetes, have already been investigated thoroughly in rats and mice. This research project rather involves another feature of these metabolic pathologies: the high free fatty acid concentrations in blood. The interest of the human assisted reproduction society in a bovine model to assess the influence of free fatty acids on the oocytes developmental competence, on the viability and function of the granulosa cells and the inquisitiveness to the underlying mechanism of these potential effects, imposes us to further research.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Hyperlipidemia and the consequences on oocyte and embryo quality. A combined bovine in vivo and in vitro model for human infertility research. 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2009

Abstract

Hypercholesterolemia is a human disorder and it has been associated with an unhealthy eat pattern. This combined in vivo and in vitro bovine model will elucidate the effect of nutritionally induced hypercholesterolemia on oocyte and embryo quality. In earlier work we showed that the metabolic changes in dairy cows early post partum and their consequences on oocyte and follicle quality is a valuable model for research in human infertility.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)