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Mol Hum Reprod. 2014 Aug;20(8):736-44. doi: 10.1093/molehr/gau037. Epub 2014 May 15.

Inhibition of phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN) in human ovary in vitro results in increased activation of primordial follicles but compromises development of growing follicles.

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Institute of Cell Biology and Centre for Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh, Hugh Robson Building, George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9XD, UK
Medical Research Council Centre for Reproductive Health, Queen's Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, 47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ, UK.
Institute of Cell Biology and Centre for Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh, Hugh Robson Building, George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9XD, UK.


In the mammalian ovary a small number of follicles are steadily recruited from the quiescent pool to undergo development. Follicle loss, maintenance and growth are strictly controlled by complex molecular interactions including the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-protein kinase B (Akt) signalling pathway. Stimulation of PI3K promotes phosphorylation of Akt resulting in follicle survival and activation of growth whereas this pathway is suppressed by the actions of the phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN). The aim of this study was to determine the effect of dipotassium bisperoxo(5-hydroxypyridine-2-carboxyl)oxovanadate (bpV), a reversible inhibitor of PTEN, on the activation, survival and development of human ovarian follicles in vitro. Biopsied ovarian tissue fragments were obtained from 17 women aged 23-46 years and exposed to 1 µM bpV(HOpic) (n = 146) or control medium (n = 128) for 24 h. Media were then replaced with control medium and all tissue incubated for a further 5 days. Ovarian tissue from each treatment group was fixed after the initial 24 h culture period and phosphorylated Akt was quantified by western blotting. After 6 days incubation all tissue fragments were inspected under light microscopy and any secondary follicles ≥100 µm isolated. Isolated follicles were cultured individually in control medium supplemented with 100 ng/ml recombinant human activin A. Tissue fragments without follicles suitable for isolation were fixed and processed for histological and immunohistochemical analysis. During 6 days culture, follicle activation occurred in tissue samples from both treatment groups but with significantly more follicles progressing to the secondary stage of development in the presence of 1 µM bpV(HOpic) compared with control (31 versus 16%; P < 0.05). Increased activation was associated with increased Akt phosphorylation and increased nuclear export of FOXO3. However isolated and cultured follicles that had been exposed to bpV(HOpic) showed limited growth and reduced survival compared with follicles from control fragments (P < 0.05). This study demonstrates that inhibition of PTEN with bpV(HOpic) affects human ovarian follicle development by promoting the initiation of follicle growth and development to the secondary stage, as in rodent species, but severely compromises the survival of isolated secondary follicles.


PTEN; follicle; human; in vitro; ovary

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