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J Soc Gynecol Investig. 2001 Jan-Feb;8(1 Suppl Proceedings):S40-2.

Oxidative stress and the ovary.

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  • 1Reproductive Biology Section, Department of Ob/Gyn, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8063, USA.


Superoxide (O(2)(-)), hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)), and lipid peroxides are generated in luteal tissue during natural and prostaglandin-induced regression in the rat, and this response is associated with reversible depletion of ascorbic acid. Reactive oxygen species immediately uncouple the luteinizing hormone receptor from adenylate cyclase and inhibit steroidogenesis by interrupting transmitochondrial cholesterol transport. The cellular origin of oxygen radicals in regressing corpora lutea is predominantly from resident and infiltrated leukocytes, notably neutrophils. Reactive oxygen species are also produced within the follicle at ovulation and, like the corpus luteum, leukocytes are the major source of these products. Antioxidants block the resumption of meiosis, whereas the generation of reactive oxygen induces oocyte maturation in the follicle. Although oxygen radicals may serve important physiologic roles within the ovary, the cyclic production of these damaging agents over years may lead to an increased cumulative risk of ovarian pathology that would probably be exacerbated under conditions of reduced antioxidant status.

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