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Theriogenology. 2009 May;71(8):1193-208. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2008.12.015. Epub 2009 Feb 3.

Involvement of growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system in ovarian folliculogenesis.

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  • 1Biotechnology Nucleus of Sobral - NUBIS, Federal University of Ceara, Avenue Geraldo Rangel, 100, 62041-040 Sobral, CE, Brazil.


During the last decade, involvement of growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) and IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs) in ovarian folliculogenesis has been extensively studied. This review provides an update on the GH, IGF system and their role in ovarian follicular development. In vitro studies and knockout experiments demonstrated an important role of GH in preantral follicle growth and differentiation through their binding with GH receptors, which are located both in the oocyte and follicular somatic tissues. Furthermore, GH stimulates the development of small antral follicles to gonadotrophin-dependent stages, as well as maturation of oocytes. With regard to the IGF system, IGF-I has no effects on primordial follicle development, but both IGF-I and IGF-II stimulate growth of secondary follicles. Depending on the species studies and method used, these proteins have been detected in oocytes and/or somatic cells. In antral follicles, these IGFs stimulate granulosa cell proliferation and steroidogenesis in most mammals. The bioavailability of IGFs is regulated by a family of intrafollicular expressed IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs). Facilitation of IGF can be increased through the activity of specific IGFBP proteases, which degrade the IGF/IGFBP complex, resulting in the production of IGFBP fragments and release of attached IGF.

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