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Endocrinology. 2009 Jun;150(6):2740-8. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-1536. Epub 2009 Feb 12.

Growth differentiation factor 9 promotes rat preantral follicle growth by up-regulating follicular androgen biosynthesis.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Reproductive Biology Unit and Division of Reproductive Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


The transition from preantral to early antral stage is the penultimate stage of ovarian follicular development in terms of gonadotropin dependence and follicle destiny. Although oocyte-somatic cell communication is important in early follicular development, our knowledge of the precise role of the oocyte-derived growth differentiation factor (GDF)-9 during preantral follicle growth is incomplete. We examined whether and by what means oocyte-derived GDF-9 controls follicular development and steroidogenesis during the preantral to early antral transition, by a combination of in vitro gene manipulation (i.e. intraoocyte injection of GDF-9 antisense oligos) and preantral follicle culture. Intraoocyte injection of GDF-9 antisense suppressed rat preantral follicle growth in vitro, whereas GDF-9 enhanced follicular development. GDF-9 augmented testosterone production in preantral follicles. GDF-9 antisense suppressed androgen production and CYP17A1 mRNA expression in cultured follicles, a response attenuated by exogenous GDF-9. The nonaromatizable androgen 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone rescued the follicular growth arrest caused by GDF-9 down-regulation. The specific androgen receptor antagonist flutamide suppressed GDF-9-induced preantral follicle growth in vitro. The data suggest that GDF-9 plays an important role in promoting preantral follicle growth by up-regulating follicular androgen biosynthesis. GDF-9 is essential for CYP17A1 expression during follicular development from the preantral to the early antral stage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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