Chuyue Zhang, Wang-Sheng Wang, Guangxin Yao, Yanan Zhu, Yikai Lin, Jiangwen Lu, Kang Sun, Yun Sun

Attenuation of palmitic acid-induced lysyl oxidase overexpression in the ovary contributes to the improvement of ovulation in obesity by metformin

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering

Abstract STUDY QUESTION Does palmitic acid (PA), the most common saturated free fatty acid (FFA) in individuals with obesity, contribute to anovulation through upregulation of the collagen-crosslinking enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX) in the ovary? SUMMARY ANSWER Increased PA in individuals with obesity can cause LOX upregulation via the activation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), resulting in abnormal collagen deposition in the ovary and anovulation, which can be ameliorated by metformin therapy. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY The underlying cause of anovulation in individuals with obesity is poorly defined, and accumulating evidence indicates that hormonal disturbance, insulin resistance and inflammation may all play a role in the development of ovulation disorders in individuals with obesity. However, it remains to be determined whether PA plays a role in the regulation of LOX expression, thus disrupting ovarian extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling in the ovary and resulting in impaired ovulation in individuals with obesity. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION PA concentration and LOX protein abundance and activity in follicular fluid and ovarian tissue was compared between control (n = 21) subjects, patients with obesity with ovulation (n = 22) and patients with obesity with anovulation (n = 16). The effect of PA on LOX protein expression, and the underlying mechanism, was examined in primary human granulosa cells in vitro. The improvements in obesity conditions induced by LOX inhibition combined with metformin were investigated in a high-fat diet-induced obese rat model. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS The abundance of PA concentration and LOX activity was measured via a LOX activity assay and ELISA, respectively. The effect of PA on LOX protein expression was examined in the presence or absence of inhibitors of signalling molecules and siRNA-mediated knockdown of the putative transcription factor. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays were subsequently conducted to further identify the responsible transcription factor. The role of metformin in the treatment of anovulation by LOX inhibition was investigated in a high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obese rat model. The numbers of retrieved total oocytes and metaphase II oocytes were recorded upon ovarian stimulation. Masson’s trichrome staining was used to measure the total collagen content, and immunohistochemical staining and western blotting were used to measureme LOX, HIF-1α, collagen I and IV in the ovary. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE Significant increased FFA, LOX, and collagen abundance was observed in the ovaries of obese women with anovulation, compared to healthy controls or obese women with ovulation. In an obese rat model, metformin corrected the distortion of ovarian morphology by decreasing LOX and collagen protein abundance in the ovary and improving oestrous cyclicity and ovulation as compared with HFD-induced obese rat). PA increased LOX expression via the activation of HIF-1α in human granulosa cells, which was attenuated by metformin. LARGE SCALE DATA N/A. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION Several other saturated and polyunsaturated FFAs, such as stearic acid and arachidonic acid, are also increased in the blood of individuals with obesity, and increased levels of other FFAs may also contribute to the development of anovulation in individuals with obesity, which needs to be further verified in the future. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS Elevated PA in individuals with obesity can cause LOX dysregulation via activation of HIF-1α, resulting in abnormal collagen deposition in the ovary and anovulation. This dysregulation can be ameliorated by metformin therapy through its local effect on ECM remodelling in the ovary, which is independent of its systemic effect on insulin sensitivity and chronic inflammation. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S) This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant numbers 82101730, 82130046 and 31900598) and Innovative Research Team of High-level local Universities in Shanghai (SHSMU-ZLCX20210201). All the authors declare no conflicts of interest in relation to this work.

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