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Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2003 Nov 10;1:95.

Multiple roles of TNF super family members in corpus luteum function.

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Laboratory of Reproductive Endocrinology, Faculty of Agriculture, Okayama University, Okayama 700-8530, Japan.


The main function of the corpus luteum (CL) is the production of progesterone. Adequate luteal progesterone is crucial for determining the physiological duration of the estrous cycle and for achieving a successful pregnancy. The CL is regulated not only by hypophyseal gonadotropin, but also by a number of cytokines that are locally produced. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) and its specific receptors (TNFR) are present in the CL of many species. TNF plays multiple and likely important roles in CL function throughout the estrous cycle. TNF appears to have luteotropic and luteolytic roles in the CLs. In contrast, Fas ligand (Fas L), another member of TNF super family (TNF-SF), is primarily recognized for its apoptotic actions. Presumably, Fas L binds its cognate receptor (Fas) to induce structural luteolysis. This review is designed to focus on recent studies documenting the expression of TNF and Fas L, their receptors, and intracellular signaling mechanisms in the CL.

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