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Endocrinology. 1999 Jun;140(6):2685-95.

Anovulation in cyclooxygenase-2-deficient mice is restored by prostaglandin E2 and interleukin-1beta.

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Laboratory of Experimental Pathology, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Mice carrying a null mutation for either of the two cyclooxygenase (COX) isoenzymes, necessary for prostanoid production, exhibit several isotype-specific reproductive abnormalities. Mice deficient in COX-1 are fertile but have decreased pup viability, whereas mice deficient in COX-2 fail to ovulate and have abnormal implantation and decidualization responses. The present study identifies the specific contribution of each COX isoenzyme in hypothalamic, pituitary, and ovarian function and establishes the pathology and rescue of the anovulatory syndrome in the COX-2-deficient mouse. In both COX-1- and COX-2-deficient mice, pituitary gonadotropins were selectively increased, whereas hypothalamic LHRH and serum gonadotropin levels were similar to those in wild-type animals (+/+). No significant differences in serum estrogen or progesterone were noted among the three genotypes. Exogenous gonadotropin stimulation with PMSG and hCG produced a comparable 4-fold increase in ovarian PGE2 levels in wild-type and COX-1(-/-) mice. COX-2(-/-) mice had no increase in PGE2 over PMSG-stimulated levels. Wild-type and COX-1(-/-) mice ovulated in response to PMSG/hCG; very few COX-2(-/-) animals responded to this regimen. The defect in ovulation in COX-2 mutants was attributed to both an abnormal cumulus oophorum expansion and subsequent stigmata formation. Gonadotropin stimulation and concurrent treatment with PGE2 or interleukin-1beta resulted in ovulation of COX-2(-/-) mice comparable to that in COX-2(+/+), whereas treatment with PGF2alpha was less effective. Collectively, these data demonstrate that COX-2, but not COX-1, is required for the gonadotropin induction of ovarian PG levels; that COX-2-related prostanoids are required for stabilization of the cumulus oophorum during ovulation; and that ovulation can be restored in the COX-2(-/-) animals by simultaneous treatment with gonadotropins and PGE2 or interleukin-1beta.

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