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Survival factors regulating ovarian apoptosis -- dependence on follicle differentiation.

Journal article
Authors Emilia Markström
Eva Ch Svensson
Linus Ruijin Shao
Bodil Svanberg
Håkan Billig
Published in Reproduction (Cambridge, England)
Volume 123
Issue 1
Pages 23-30
ISSN 1470-1626
Publication year 2002
Published at Institute of Physiology and Pharmacology
Institute of Physiology and Pharmacology, Dept of Physiology
Pages 23-30
Language en
Keywords Animals, Apoptosis, physiology, Cell Differentiation, physiology, Female, Follicle Stimulating Hormone, physiology, Follicular Atresia, physiology, Gonadotropins, Pituitary, physiology, Growth Substances, physiology, Humans, Insulin-Like Growth Factor I, physiology, Interleukin-1, physiology, Luteinizing Hormone, physiology, Ovarian Follicle, physiology, Ovulation, physiology, Progesterone, physiology, Rats
Subject categories Medical and Health Sciences


Only a minute fraction of the ovarian follicles present in a fetal ovary will complete the path to ovulation. Most of the follicles will undergo atresia, a hormonally controlled apoptotic process. Apoptosis occurs at each stage of follicular development and there is a marked reduction in the number of follicles present at birth. Stage-dependent mechanisms of follicle survival can be postulated to achieve co-ordinated development, leading to ovulation of a small fraction of follicles. Indeed, hormone and growth factor regulation of follicular atresia is stage-specific. This short review considers the factors that promote survival of ovarian follicles throughout development, including endocrine, locally produced and intracellular mediators, as exemplified mainly by follicular development in rodents. In primordial follicles, oocyte apoptosis is considered to be the cause of subsequent follicle degeneration. In slow-growing preantral follicles, FSH is not a survival factor, but some locally produced growth factors are. Progression to the antral follicle stage is probably the most critical stage of follicle development in vivo, and FSH is a major survival factor at this stage. In addition, insulin-like growth factor I and interleukin 1beta are potent survival factors for cultured rat follicles at the antral stage. Preovulatory follicles express receptors for LH, and both of the gonadotrophins are survival factors at this stage. Relatively little is known about the period between the LH surge and ovulation; however, it has been suggested that at this stage progesterone acts as a survival factor.

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