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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Jul;86(7):3115-9.

Phosphatidyl-inositol-3 kinase-independent insulin action pathway(s) in the human ovary.

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Division of Endocrinology, Beth Israel Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, New York 10003, USA.


Hyperandrogenism observed in women with a variety of insulin-resistant states is thought to be due to a stimulatory effect of insulin on ovarian steroid hormone production. However, it is not known what mechanisms could allow the ovary to remain sensitive to insulin while classical target organs for insulin action (liver, fat, and muscle) exhibit insulin resistance. One hypothesis proposed to explain this paradox suggests that a postbinding divergence of insulin receptor signaling occurs in the ovary and that signaling pathways for steroid hormone synthesis and other ovarian effects of insulin may be distinct from classical glucose signaling pathways. We now report that activation of phosphatidyl-inositol-3 (PI-3) kinase, which is crucial for glucose transport, is not necessary for the insulin-induced stimulation of progesterone production or for the insulin-induced inhibition of insulin-like growth factor binding protein 1 (IGFBP-1) production in cultured human ovarian cells. Human granulosa cells obtained during in vitro fertilization procedures were cultured with 10, 10(2), 10(3), or 10(4) ng/mL insulin with or without preincubation with 100 nM wortmannin, a specific irreversible inhibitor of PI-3 kinase. IGFBP-1 concentration in the conditioned medium was measured using immunoradiometric assay or by Western blot analysis. Progesterone concentration was measured using RIA. Additional studies were carried out in cultures of human ovarian cells prepared from homogenized whole ovarian tissue of a woman with a family history of breast cancer and a mutation of BRCA-1 gene who underwent bilateral oophorectomy. These cells were cultured with 10(3) ng/mL insulin with or without preincubation with 100 nM wortmannin. Two-way ANOVA was used to compare mean values of IGFBP-1 and progesterone according to insulin dose and the use of wortmannin. In cultured granulosa cell medium, progesterone production was stimulated by insulin in a dose-related manner up to 175% of control (P < 0.0001). In tissue culture medium from ovarian cells obtained from a patient with BRCA-gene mutation, concentration of progesterone in the tissue culture medium increased from 2.5 +/- 0.2 ng/mL for control to 5.4 +/- 0.3 ng/mL for cells incubated with insulin (P < 0.001). IGFBP-1 production in tissue culture medium from human granulosa cells was inhibited by insulin to the nadir of 45% of control (P < 0.0001). Preincubation with wortmannin, despite complete inhibition of PI-3 kinase in both cell systems confirmed by Western blot analysis, failed to significantly alter these results. We conclude that inhibition of PI-3 kinase by wortmannin fails to abolish stimulatory effect of insulin on progesterone production or inhibitory effect of insulin on IGFBP-1 production in cultured human ovarian cells. These findings suggest that activation of PI-3 kinase, an enzyme crucial for insulin-stimulated glucose transport, is not necessary for the above effects of insulin in the ovary. These data provide evidence for the presence of PI-3 kinase-independent insulin signaling pathway(s) in human ovarian cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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