Bovine follicular fluid and extracellular vesicles derived from follicular fluid alter the bovine oviductal epithelial cells transcriptome."


While follicular fluid (FF) is well known to provide an optimal environment for oogenesis, its functional roles following its release into the oviduct during ovulation are currently elusive. We hypothesized that FF and FF-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) may be conveyors of signals capable of inducing functionally-relevant transcriptional responses in oviductal cells. The aim of this study was, therefore, to evaluate the effect of FF and FF-derived EVs on the transcriptome of primary bovine oviductal epithelial cells (BOECs). We examined the gene expression of BOECs in three conditions: BOECs cultured with FF, FF-derived EVs, and without supplementations. For each condition, cells were cultured for 6 and 24 h. RNA sequencing results revealed that FF had a stronger effect on BOECs gene expression compared to EVs. We detected 488 and 1998 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) with FF treatment in 6 and 24 h, respectively, whereas only 41 DEGs were detected at 6 h following EV treatment. Pathway analysis of the FF-induced DEGs showed that several pathways were highly enriched, notably oxidative phosphorylation, thermogenesis, arachidonic acid metabolism, and steroid hormone biosynthesis. Some of these pathways have a role in sperm survival, fertilization, and early embryo development. In conclusion, the findings of our study demonstrate for the first time that bovine FF and FF-derived EVs can induce changes in the gene expression of the bovine oviductal cells which, although observed in vitro, may be reflective of in vivo responses which may contribute to a favorable periconceptional microenvironment for sperm survival, fertilization, and early embryo development.



follicular fluid; extracellular vesicles; oviductal epithelial cells; gene expression; fertilization; embryonic development