The balanced presence of reactive oxygen species and antioxidants has a positive impact on sperm functions, oocyte maturation, fertilization, and embryo development in vitro. The mammalian oviduct is likely to provide an optimal environment for final gamete maturation, sperm-egg fusion, and early embryonic development. However, the expression and distribution of antioxidant enzymes in the bovine oviduct are poorly characterized. We analyzed the mRNA expression and enzymatic activities of major antioxidants glutathione peroxidase (GPx), superoxide dismutase (Cu,ZnSOD), and catalase in the bovine oviduct throughout the estrous cycle. The high levels of expression for GPx-3 in the isthmus were in contrast to expression of GPx-1 and GPx-2, which occurred mostly in the ampulla and infundibulum of the oviduct. The highest levels of mRNA expression for GPx-1 were observed toward the end of the estrous cycle before ovulation, whereas GPx-2 was mostly expressed at midcycle. Catalase and Cu,ZnSOD mRNA analyses revealed a homogenous expression along the oviduct. The highest levels of glutathione and enzymatic activities for GPx and catalase occurred at the middle (10–12 days) and end (18–20 days) of the estrous cycle, whereas total SOD activity remained constant throughout the estrous cycle in the oviductal fluids. These findings underscore the importance of hydrogen peroxide and hydroperoxide removal by GPx in the oviduct. The heterogeneous expression of antioxidants such as GPx along the oviduct is a possible indication of their physiological role in the events leading to successful fertilization and implantation in vivo.
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