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One health study could shed light on fertility treatments
“This study highlights the validity of cattle as a model to study human ovarian physiology and fertility."
miR-96 could be key to sustaining pregnancy

A new study of human cells and tissues collected from cattle has revealed the gene-regulating molecule miR-96 could be key to establishing and sustaining pregnancy.

When an egg is released from a follicle in the ovary, the tissue left behind forms the corpus luteum and secretes hormones that are essential for sustaining pregnancy. Inadequate production of progesterone has been associated with pregnancy loss in cattle, sheep and horses.

In humans this association remains unclear, but improving understanding in this area could lead to new fertility treatments.

Scientists from the Roslin Institute explored the effects of small non-coding RNA molecules (microRNAs) on the survival and production of progesterone by corpus luteum cells in humans undergoing assisted contraception.

Previous studies have implicated microRNAs in the maturation of ovarian follicles in several farm animal species. Roslin scientists also collected ovarian tissue from cattle to find out which microRNAs are up-regulated as the corpus luteum develops.

The team found distinct increases in the levels of miR-96 and miR-132 in luteum tissue, relative to follicular tissue. These changes were mirrored in human luteal cells.

Using a specific inhibitor to down-regulate miR-96 decreased the production of progesterone and triggered human luteal cell death. Further analysis revealed the effects of miR-96 are mediated by the transcription factor FOXO1, which offers insights into potential targets for new fertility treatments.

Lead author Dr Xavier Donadeu commented: “This study highlights the validity of cattle as a model to study human ovarian physiology and fertility. Our comparative approach provides new insight into reproductive mechanisms in humans.”

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Campaign highlights ‘devastating impact’ of smoking around pets

News Story 1
 Leading vet charity PDSA has launched a campaign highlighting the ‘devastating impact’ that smoking can have on pets. The launch coincides with National No Smoking Day (14 March 2018) and aims to raise awareness of the risks of passive smoking and how to keep pets safe.

“Recent studies highlight that this is a really serious issue, and we want pet owners to know that they can make a real difference by simply choosing to smoke outdoors away from their pets,” said PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan. “We want pet owners to realise that, if they smoke, their pets smoke too.”  

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News Shorts
AWF named charity of the year

The Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) has been chosen as charity of the year by the Veterinary Marketing Association (VMA). AWF is a vet-led charity, supported by the BVA, which aims to improve animal welfare though research funding, supporting veterinary education, providing pet care advice and encouraging debate on welfare issues.

VMA has pledged a range of support, including raising awareness and funds at their awards ceremony, which takes place on Friday 16 March, as well as offering marketing support through VMA marketing workshops.