Physiology and endocrinology symposium: Cellular and molecular mechanisms of heat stress related to bovine ovarian function

Z. Roth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


In light of the intensive genetic selection for high milk production and the onset of global warming, it seems that the reduced fertility of lactating cows during the summer will worsen in coming years. Although not entirely clear, the mechanism appears to be multifactorial in nature. It includes alterations in follicular development, depression of follicular dominance, and impairment of steroidogenesis and gonadotropin secretion. Heat-induced perturbations in the physiology of the follicle-enclosed oocyte have also been documented, expressed by impaired cleavage rate and reduced developmental competence. With respect to the oocyte, alterations include an increase in PUFA in the membrane, reactive oxygen species, ceramide formation and caspase activity, and induction of apoptosis via the sphingomyelin and/or mitochondrial pathways. New insight into cellular and molecular alterations has revealed that heat induces perturbations in both nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation events, such as resumption of meiosis, metaphase II plate formation, cytoskeleton rearrangement, and translocation of cortical granules. Alterations in mitochondrial distribution (i.e., low proportion of category I mitochondria) and function (i.e., low membrane potential) have recently been reported for oocytes collected during the summer. These were associated with impaired expression of both nuclear (succinate dehydrogenase subunit [SDHD], adenosine triphosphate [ATP] synthase subunit beta [ATP5B]), mitochondrially NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 (ND2), and mitochondiral (cytochrome c oxidase subunit II [MT-CO2] and cytochrome b [MT-CYB]) genes that are crucial in the mitochondrial respiratory chain. In addition, seasoninduced alteration in the stored maternal mRNA has been documented, expressed by reduced transcript levels (oocyte maturation factor MOS [C-MOS], growth differentiation factor 9 [GDF9], POU domain class 5 transcription factor 1 [POU5F1], and glyceraldehyde- 3-phosphate dehydrogenase [GAPDH]) in metaphase II stage oocytes and embryos before (i.e., 2-, 4-, and 8-cell stages) and after (i.e., 8- to 16-cell stage) embryonic genome activation. Taken together, the findings indicate an association between cellular and molecular modifications and reduced developmental competence during the hot seasons. Such knowledge is essential for the development of new approaches to cope with this unsolved problem.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2034-2044
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.


  • Dairy cow
  • Heat stress
  • Ovarian function


Dive into the research topics of 'Physiology and endocrinology symposium: Cellular and molecular mechanisms of heat stress related to bovine ovarian function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this