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Open access

Katja Hummitzsch, Nicholas Hatzirodos, Anne M Macpherson, Jeff Schwartz, Raymond J Rodgers, and Helen F Irving-Rodgers

The ovary has specialised stromal compartments, including the tunica albuginea, interstitial stroma and theca interna, which develops concurrently with the follicular antrum. To characterise the molecular determinants of these compartments, stroma adjacent to preantral follicles (pre-theca), interstitium and tunica albuginea were laser microdissected (n = 4 per group) and theca interna was dissected from bovine antral follicles (n = 6). RNA microarray analysis showed minimal differences between interstitial stroma and pre-theca, and these were combined for some analyses and referred to as stroma. Genes significantly upregulated in theca interna compared to stroma included INSL3, LHCGR, HSD3B1, CYP17A1, ALDH1A1, OGN, POSTN and ASPN. Quantitative RT-PCR showed significantly greater expression of OGN and LGALS1 in interstitial stroma and theca interna versus tunica and greater expression of ACD in tunica compared to theca interna. PLN was significantly higher in interstitial stroma compared to tunica and theca. Ingenuity pathway, network and upstream regulator analyses were undertaken. Cell survival was also upregulated in theca interna. The tunica albuginea was associated with GPCR and cAMP signalling, suggesting tunica contractility. It was also associated with TGF-β signalling and increased fibrous matrix. Western immunoblotting was positive for OGN, LGALS1, ALDH1A1, ACD and PLN with PLN and OGN highly expressed in tunica and interstitial stroma (each n = 6), but not in theca interna from antral follicles (n = 24). Immunohistochemistry localised LGALS1 and POSTN to extracellular matrix and PLN to smooth muscle cells. These results have identified novel differences between the ovarian stromal compartments.

Free access

Nicole A Bastian, Rosemary A Bayne, Katja Hummitzsch, Nicholas Hatzirodos, Wendy M Bonner, Monica D Hartanti, Helen F Irving-Rodgers, Richard A Anderson, and Raymond J Rodgers

Fibrillins 1–3 are stromal extracellular matrix proteins that play important roles in regulating TGFβ activity, which stimulates fibroblasts to proliferate and synthesize collagen. In the developing ovary, the action of stroma is initially necessary for the formation of ovigerous cords and subsequently for the formation of follicles and the surface epithelium of the ovary. FBN3 is highly expressed only in early ovarian development and then it declines. In contrast, FBN1 and 2 are upregulated in later ovarian development. We examined the expression of FBN1–3 in bovine and human fetal ovaries. We used cell dispersion and monolayer culture, cell passaging and tissue culture. Cells were treated with growth factors, hormones or inhibitors to assess the regulation of expression of FBN1–3. When bovine fetal ovarian tissue was cultured, FBN3 expression declined significantly. Treatment with TGFβ-1 increased FBN1 and FBN2 expression in bovine fibroblasts, but did not affect FBN3 expression. Additionally, in cultures of human fetal ovarian fibroblasts (9–17weeks gestational age), the expression of FBN1 and FBN2 increased with passage, whereas FBN3 dramatically decreased. Treatment with activin A and a TGFβ family signaling inhibitor, SB431542, differentially regulated the expression of a range of modulators of TGFβ signaling and of other growth factors in cultured human fetal ovarian fibroblasts suggesting that TGFβ signaling is differentially involved in the regulation of ovarian fibroblasts. Additionally, since the changes in FBN1–3 expression that occur in vitro are those that occur with increasing gestational age in vivo, we suggest that the fetal ovarian fibroblasts mature in vitro.

Free access

Hannah G Clarke, Sarah A Hope, Sharon Byers, and Raymond J Rodgers

During mammalian follicle development, a fluid-filled antrum develops in the avascular centre of the follicle. We investigated the hypothesis that follicular fluid contains osmotically-active molecules, sufficiently large so as to not freely escape the follicular fluid. Such molecules could generate an osmotic differential and thus recruit fluid from the surrounding vascularised stroma into the antrum. Follicular fluid was collected from bovine follicles classified histologically as healthy (n = 4 pools) or atretic (n = 4 pools). Dialysis of the follicular fluid at 300 kDa or 500 kDa resulted in a reduction in colloid osmotic pressure of 35% and 60%, respectively, in fluid from healthy follicles and 29% and 80% from atretic follicles. Digestion of follicular fluid with Streptomyces hyaluronidase, chondroitinase ABC or DNase 1 followed by dialysis resulted in reductions in osmotic pressure of 43%, 53% and 43% respectively for fluids from healthy follicles and 34%, 20% and 31% for atretic follicles. Digestion with collagenase I, proteinase K, heparanase 1 or keratanase had no significant effect on the osmotic pressure of follicular fluid of healthy follicles. Ion exchange and size exclusion, Western blotting and ELISA identified the proteoglycans versican and inter-alpha trypsin inhibitor and the glycosaminoglycan hyaluronan in follicular fluid. We conclude that these molecules or aggregates of them are of sufficient size to contribute to the osmotic potential of follicular fluid and thus recruit fluid into the follicular antrum. DNA may also contribute but it is probably not a component that is regulated for this role.