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Mol Endocrinol. 2012 Jul;26(7):1158-66. doi: 10.1210/me.2012-1027. Epub 2012 May 17.

C-type natriuretic peptide stimulates ovarian follicle development.

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  • 1Program of Reproductive and Stem Cell Biology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5317, USA.


C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) encoded by the NPPC (Natriuretic Peptide Precursor C) gene expressed in ovarian granulosa cells inhibits oocyte maturation by activating the natriuretic peptide receptor (NPR)B (NPRB) in cumulus cells. RT-PCR analyses indicated increased NPPC and NPRB expression during ovarian development and follicle growth, associated with increases in ovarian CNP peptides in mice. In cultured somatic cells from infantile ovaries and granulosa cells from prepubertal animals, treatment with CNP stimulated cGMP production. Also, treatment of cultured preantral follicles with CNP stimulated follicle growth whereas treatment of cultured ovarian explants from infantile mice with CNP, similar to FSH, increased ovarian weight gain that was associated with the development of primary and early secondary follicles to the late secondary stage. Of interest, treatment with FSH increased levels of NPPC, but not NPRB, transcripts in ovarian explants. In vivo studies further indicated that daily injections of infantile mice with CNP for 4 d promoted ovarian growth, allowing successful ovulation induction by gonadotropins. In prepubertal mice, CNP treatment alone also promoted early antral follicle growth to the preovulatory stage, leading to efficient ovulation induction by LH/human chorionic gonadotropin. Mature oocytes retrieved after CNP treatment could be fertilized in vitro and developed into blastocysts, allowing the delivery of viable offspring. Thus, CNP secreted by growing follicles is capable of stimulating preantral and antral follicle growth. In place of FSH, CNP treatment could provide an alternative therapy for female infertility.

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