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Dana Chuderland, Ido Ben-Ami, Hadas Bar-Joseph, and Ruth Shalgi

The physiological function of the female reproductive organs is hormonally controlled. In each cycle, the reproductive organs undergo tissue modifications that are accompanied by formation and destruction of blood vessels. Proper angiogenesis requires an accurate balance between stimulatory and inhibitory signals, provided by pro- and anti-angiogenic factors. As with many other tissues, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) appears to be one of the major pro-angiogenic factors in the female reproductive organs. Pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) is a non-inhibitory member of the serine protease inhibitors (serpin) superfamily, possessing potent physiologic anti-angiogenic activity that negates VEGF activity. The role of PEDF in decreasing abnormal neovascularization by exerting its anti-angiogenic effect that inhibits pro-angiogenic factors, including VEGF, has been investigated mainly in the eye and in cancer. This review summarizes the function of PEDF in the reproductive system, showing its hormonal regulation and its anti-angiogenic activity. Furthermore, some pathologies of the female reproductive organs, including endometriosis, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome, and others, are associated with a faulty angiogenic process. This review illuminates the role of PEDF in their pathogenesis and treatment. Collectively, we can conclude that although PEDF seems to play an essential role in the physiology and pathophysiology of the reproductive system, its full role and mechanism of action still need to be elucidated.

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Hadas Bar-Joseph, Ido Ben-Ami, Raphael Ron-El, Ruth Shalgi, and Dana Chuderland

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a known trigger of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), a potentially life-threatening complication of assisted reproduction. Administration of hCG results in the release of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) from the ovary. We have previously shown that expression of pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) in granulosa cell line is regulated by hCG, reciprocally to VEGF, and that the PEDF–VEGF balance is impaired in OHSS. Our aim was to explore the signaling network by which hCG downregulates the expression of PEDF mRNA and protein in granulosa cells. We applied specific chemical inhibitors and stimuli to human primary granulosa cells and rat granulosa cell line. We found that PKA and protein kinase C, as well as EGFR, ERK1/2 and PI3K, participate in the signaling network. The finding that hCG-induced PEDF downregulation and VEGF upregulation are mediated by similar signaling cascades emphasizes the delicate regulation of ovarian angiogenesis.