The most characterized stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) variants are the isoform α, which is the predominant one but undergoes rapid proteolysis, and the β isoform which is more resistant. Through the interaction with a specific chemokine receptor called CXCR4, SDF-1 is able to regulate different physiological processes. The aim of this study was to verify the expression and potential functional role of SDF-1 and CXCR4 in the porcine ovary. Firstly, the expression of SDF-1 and its receptor in different ovarian districts was verified for the first time. Thereafter, the effect of SDF-1 β isoform (51-72) fragment on functional parameters such as proliferation, metabolic activity, redox status, nitric oxide production and steroidogenic activity were assessed on granulosa cells collected from follicles. In addition, the potential effect of this protein in vascular events was verified through investigations on porcine aortic (AOC) endothelial cells such as production of nitric oxide and viability test. Proliferation and metabolic activity were not affected by treatment with the cytokine. As regard to steroidogenesis, the peptide stimulated both estrogen (P = 0.049) and progesterone production (P = 0.039). Redox status was affected by the examined substance since superoxide anion was inhibited (P = 0.001) while antioxidant power (P = 0.034) as well as nitric oxide generation were stimulated (P = 0.034). Tests performed on AOCs showed a significant stimulation of nitric oxide production (P = 0.004) by the examined peptide while cell viability was unaffected. Therefore, a potential role of cytokine in the mechanisms involved in the regulation of follicular function can be hypothesized.
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