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Inferring the past, recent and future evolutionary history of species
At the end of the last century, the renowned scientist John Avise introduced the phylogeography concept in reference to the study of the historical principles and processes that govern the geographical distribution of genealogical lineages (Avise et al. 1987; Avise 2000). Considered as a biogeography subdiscipline, phylogeography emphasizes historical aspects of the contemporary distribution of lineages (Avise & Hamrick 1996; Avise 2000; Hewitt & Butlin 1997). Widely studied, climatic changes have been shown to engender major fluctuations in the demography and distribution of wild species on an evolutionary time scale. Climatic changes (e.g. influence of Quaternary climatic fluctuations) sometimes entail long-lasting isolation of populations, subsequently leading to ecological differentiation or speciation (Lister 2004; Vrba 1995a, 1995b). These phylogeographic patterns shape the evolutionary history of contemporary taxa. Phylogeographical studies have flourished over the last few decades, especially in Europe, but not in Africa, although this continent still hosts large megafaunal communities (Barnosky et al. 2004). Understanding how African wildlife responded to climatic changes in the past facilitates the identification of biodiversity hotspots (i.e. glacial refugia), forecasting future population dynamics and developing adapted management strategies.
Dominic Stoop, Centre for Reproductive Medicine, UZ Brussel, Brussels, Belgium,
Ellen Anckaert, Follicle Biology Laboratory, UZ Brussel, Brussels, Belgium,
Johan Smitz, Follicle Biology Laboratory, UZ Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
Ovarian stimulation exposes the body to supraphysiological levels of steroid hormones. The most serious complication related to that stimulation is the ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) characterized by the shift of protein-rich fluid from the intravascular space to the third space, mainly the abdominal cavity. Two main clinical forms of OHSS, the early and the late, are distinguished by their time of onset and by the origin of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) triggering that induces this complication. Early OHSS usually occurs within 9 days of oocyte retrieval in response to exogenous hCG, while endogenous hCG of early pregnancy or exogenous hCG for luteal phase support mainly causes the late OHSS.
According to the literature, the incidence of moderate cases of OHSS is about 5%, whereas in 2% (on average) of cycles hospitalization is required [1, 2]. Apart from the physical discomfort, the disorder constitutes a serious health risk and may even be fatal. Reports on maternal mortality rates from the Netherlands and the UK indicate an incidence of about 3 deaths per 100000 cycles performed [3, 4]. In view of the rapid expansion of assisted reproductive treatments, the total number of maternal deaths related to OHSS may be far greater than initially expected . In this chapter, we give an overview of the approaches available to limit or even completely prevent the occurrence of this complication.
This chapter focuses on the non-invasive approaches which largely concentrate on proteomics analyses. Proteins are generated from the genome with signal sequences that direct them to the cell membrane or are secreted in the extracellular environment. Secreted proteins are often post-translationally modified, in particular by glycosylation. These proteins are then released into the interstitial environment where they may enter body fluids such as the blood system and, in the case of endometriosis, be detected in endometrial, peritoneal, or follicular fluids. In most proteomic approaches, mass spectrometry (MS) plays a part in the analyses. Electrospray ionization (ESI) is the most common method for sample introduction into the MS. Matrix assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) is also be used as an alternative to ESI. Two-dimensional gel analyses have traditionally been used for the differential analysis of proteomes and differences may be observed and selected visually or using image analysis of scanned gels.
Cryopreservation techniques for blastocysts are required to preserve surplus blastocysts. Cryopreservation of the blastocyst was mainly carried out with a slow-freezing technique using programmed freezers. As a typical container for embryos, a cryostraw, includes both liquid (cryoprotectant) and solids, a slow change in temperature is needed to preserve cell structure. The vitrification method developed for mammals has recently been applied to human embryos. The chapter outlines a vitrification procedure for cryopreservation of blastocysts (Cryotop method). The cryopreservation of surplus blastocysts is beneficial, especially for day 6 blastocysts. When cryopreserved and thawed blastocysts are transferred into the uterus, two methods of endometrial preparation for transfer are available. One is transferring to the endometrium in the natural menstrual cycle and the other is to an endometrium prepared by hormone replacement. For patients who have a chromosomal abnormality, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is applied for in order to choose normal embryos.
This chapter focuses on human follicle culture and briefly describes follicle culture in some of the animal models that were inspiring for progress in humans. Several culture media used to grow human follicles in vitro have been supplemented with the growth factors to assess their potential physiological significance in regulating the earliest stages of follicular development in human. The ovarian cortical tissue is mainly populated with primordial follicles. In vitro follicle culture involved the use of isolated early-stage follicles. There are two approaches to the isolation of follicles: mechanical (microdissection) and enzymatic (use of enzyme). Basically, three major approaches in follicle culture techniques can be distinguished: culture of ovarian cortical tissue (humans and larger animals), culture of entire ovaries (rodents), and culture of isolated follicles (humans, larger animals, and rodents). Several histomorphometric methods are used to investigate follicular development in vitro.
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