Summary. Rats were pretreated with oestradiol-17β or PMSG, treatments producing mainly preantral and antral follicles respectively. The granulosa cells from these two treatments, E2- and PMSG-cells respectively, were cultured for 2 successive 24-h periods. Basal progesterone secretion, stimulated 3- to 5-fold by FSH, was almost 8-fold higher by PMSG-cells than by E2-cells at 24 and 48 h. Similarly, PMSG-cells secreted 16-fold more 20α-dihydroprogesterone than did E2-cells, in the absence of FSH, and 6- to 10-fold more of the 20α-reduced metabolite in the presence of FSH. In contrast, fibronectin secretion by PMSG-cells was only about 60% and 30% that by E2-cells at 24 and 48 h, respectively. Fibronectin secretion by E2- and PMSG-cells was reduced in the presence of FSH at 24 and at 48 h of culture. While cells in all treatment groups underwent spreading during culture to become elongated and irregular in outline, elevated fibronectin secretion in vitro was accompanied by enhanced cellular spreading. At 24 and 48 h of culture respectively, the mean area occupied by E2-cells on the culture surface was × 2 and × 1·6 that by PMSG-cells. Coincident with its inhibitory effect on fibronectin secretion, FSH reduced the mean area occupied by E2- and PMSG-cells on the culture surface at both time intervals. These findings suggest that granulosa cell fibronectin secretion is a feature of early follicular development. It may be that the secretion of this adhesive glycoprotein by granulosa cells provides a pool of fibronectin which is used for basement membrane deposition during follicular growth.
Keywords: fibronectin; granulosa cell; extracellular matrix; follicular development; rat