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In human reproduction, hyperhomocysteinemia has been reported as a risk factor for early pregnancy loss and congenital birth defects. Hyperhomocysteinemia is also recognized as a cause of maternal obstetric complications such as preeclampsia. The role of plasma hyperhomocysteinemia in female fertility was examined using cystathionine beta synthase knockout (cbs KO) mice. Cbs KO females were infertile, showed alterations in the estrus cycle and an increased progesterone response during pseudo-pregnancy induction. Both cbs KO ovaries and ovulated oocytes showed no major morphological alterations. However, placental and uterine masses were decreased at day 18 of pregnancy and showed morphological abnormalities. In cbs-KO pregnant females, the number of uterine implantation sites was not decreased despite the low number of surviving embryos. Fertility was restored when cbs-deficient ovaries were transplanted to normal ovarectomized recipients. We detected an increased uterine expression of Grp78, a marker of endoplasmic reticulum stress, which was accompanied by the decreased levels of uterine cbs mRNA in both hyperhomocysteinemic heterozygous (fertile) and homozygous (non-fertile) females. Our results indicate that cbs -/- female infertility is a consequence of the uterine failure and demonstrate that uterine endoplasmic reticulum stress and cbs expression are not determinant of infertility, suggesting that uterine dysfunction is a consequence of either hyperhomocysteinemia or other factor(s) in the uterine environment of cbs -/- animals. In summary, these studies demonstrate the potential importance of homocysteine levels for uterine handling of embryos.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Mol Genet

Publication Date





3168 - 3176


Animals, Cystathionine beta-Synthase, Endoplasmic Reticulum, Estrous Cycle, Female, Heat-Shock Proteins, Hyperhomocysteinemia, Infertility, Female, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Knockout, Molecular Chaperones, Pregnancy, Uterus