Abstract #104

# 104
A role for seminal fluid in promoting optimal pregnancy outcomes.
John J. Bromfield*1, 1University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Seminal plasma is the cell-free, fluid fraction of the ejaculate which is significantly diluted during semen preparation for use in artificial insemination (AI) programs. Seminal plasma contains several protein complexes that stimulate strong changes within the lining of the uterus. In dairy cows, the infusion of seminal plasma at the time of AI has been shown to increase pregnancy rates by 4.6%. While these studies were underpowered, the studies reveal that infusion of seminal plasma at AI improved pregnancy outcomes in herds with poor pregnancy rates. The supplementation of seminal plasma at insemination in other species, including mice, horse, swine, and humans improves pregnancy outcomes. In rodents, we have observed significant seminal plasma induced changes in expression of genes which promote early embryo development, modulate endometrial tissue remodeling and immune adaptation required for pregnancy success. One seminal plasma protein that facilitates positive pregnancy changes in the uterus of other species is transforming growth factor-β. The role of specific seminal plasma proteins in modulating the maternal environment is currently lacking in the cow. Our work has begun to unravel the importance of seminal plasma in modulating the endometrial environment of the cow. The studies will help lead to the development of new AI protocols to improve the fertility of lactating dairy cows and aid in the use of sexed semen, where fertility is further compromised. This work is supported by Select Sires and the Southeast Milk checkoff.

Key Words: seminal plasma, endometrium, embryo development

Speaker Bio
Our laboratory focuses on infection and immunity in the female reproductive tract, in particular we have a specific interest in uterine infection in dairy cows. Approximately 40% of all dairy cows acquire a uterine infection following calving resulting in pain, infertility and reduced milk production resulting in an annual cost to the US dairy industry of $650 million. 
Using molecular and cellular techniques we aim to elucidate the mechanisms involved in the innate immune response to invading pathogens in the uterus resulting in infertility. The Gram-negative bacteria E. coli, comprising a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) cell wall, is the primary causes of clinical metritis in dairy cows. The innate immune response to LPS is orchestrated through the Toll-like receptor (TLR) pathway. Interestingly, dairy cows with uterine infections accumulate LPS in the ovarian follicle and initiates an inflammatory response by the ovarian granulosa cells. This response results in reduced oocyte quality while reducing the follicular reserve and can explain some level of infertility in cows with infections. 
We aim to understand how LPS, and other bacterial components negatively impacts the ovary and oocyte. By understanding these mechanisms we will be able to intervene in dairy cows with infection and promote fertility and milk production.
Secondary to infection and immunity our lab has an active interest in improving oocyte cryopreservation and the developmental environment of the early embryo.