This study assessed the effects of 4-nitrophenol (PNP) and 3-methyl-4-nitrophenol (PNMC) on steroidogenesis in the granulosa layers (GLs) and theca layers (TLs) of chicken preovulatory follicles in vitro and in vivo. In the in vitro experiment, three of the largest yellow preovulatory follicles (F3 < F2 < F1) were exposed to PNP or PNMC (10-10 M), ovine luteinising hormone (oLH; 10 ng/mL), and combinations of oLH and PNP or PNMC (10 M). In the in vivo experiment, laying hens were treated for 6 days with PNP or PNMC (10 mg/kg). In vitro experiments revealed that PNP and PNMC decreased basal and oLH-stimulated P4 secretion from the GL as well as T and E2 secretion from the TLs of F3-F1 follicles. Treatment of laying hens with nitrophenols lowered plasma concentrations of luteinising hormone and all three steroids. The reduction of steroid secretion was associated with decrease in LHR, HSD3B1 and CYP19A1 mRNA expression in the GL and/or TLs of the preovulatory follicles, both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, PNP decreased HSD3B protein expression in the GL of F2 follicles in vitro and in vivo, while PNMC diminished its expression in the GL of F1 follicles in vivo. In vitro, nitrophenols did not affect CYP19A1 protein expression; however, nitrophenols inhibited its expression in the TLs of F3 and F2 follicles in vivo. The results obtained clearly demonstrate that nitrophenols are negative modulators of steroidogenesis in chicken preovulatory follicles and, in consequence, may not only impair ovulation process, but also affect function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis.
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