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Mol Endocrinol. 1992 Nov;6(11):1942-50.

Epidermal growth factor and basic fibroblast growth factor suppress the spontaneous onset of apoptosis in cultured rat ovarian granulosa cells and follicles by a tyrosine kinase-dependent mechanism.

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Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, California 94305-5317.


Recent biochemical studies have suggested that apoptotic cell death is the molecular mechanism underlying the degeneration of ovarian follicles during atresia. Using a sensitive autoradiographic method for the detection of DNA fragmentation, we studied apoptosis in ovarian granulosa cells or intact follicles placed in serum-free culture as model systems to elucidate the hormonal regulation of atresia. Immature rats (25 days old) were primed for 2 days with 10 IU equine CG to induce a homogeneous population of mature preovulatory follicles. Granulosa cells isolated from these follicles contained predominantly intact high mol wt DNA. However, a time-dependent, spontaneous onset of internucleosomal DNA fragmentation characteristic of apoptotic cell death occurred in granulosa cells during culture. Treatment of granulosa cells with epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF alpha), or basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) inhibited the spontaneous onset of apoptotic DNA cleavage found during culture by 40-60%. In contrast, insulin-like growth factor I, insulin, TGF beta and tumor necrosis factor-alpha were ineffective. Likewise, activation of the protein kinase A or C pathways with forskolin or phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, respectively, did not prevent the onset of DNA fragmentation, although inclusion of a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (genistein) completely blocked the ability of EGF, TGF alpha, and bFGF to suppress apoptosis in granulosa cells. Similar to cultured granulosa cells, a spontaneous onset of apoptosis was also observed to occur in isolated preovulatory follicles during culture. Furthermore, treatment of follicles with EGF or bFGF inhibited the spontaneous initiation of apoptosis, and the suppressive effects of these growth factors were also attenuated by co-treatment with genistein.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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