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Zhoufei Mao, Liuhong Yang, Xiaosheng Lu, Anni Tan, Yuxia Wang, Fei Ding, Luanjuan Xiao, Xufeng Qi, and Yanhong Yu

C1q/tumor necrosis factor-related protein 3 (C1QTNF3) is a novel adipokine with modulating effects on metabolism, inflammation and the cardiovascular system. C1QTNF3 expression levels in the sera and omental adipose tissues of women with PCOS are low compared to control subjects. However, the expression and function of C1QTNF3 in the ovary has not previously been examined. Here, we assessed the expression patterns of C1qtnf3 in the ovary and explored its role in folliculogenesis. The C1qtnf3 transcript abundance was higher in large follicles than in small follicles and was under the influence of gonadotropin. C1QTNF3 was detected mainly in the granulosa cells and oocytes of growing follicles and modestly in the granulosa cells of atretic follicles and in luteal cells. Excess androgen significantly decreased C1QTNF3 expression in the ovaries in vivo and in granulosa cells in vitro. Recombinant C1QTNF3 protein accelerated the weight gain of ovarian explants and the growth of preantral follicles induced by follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in vitro. The stimulatory effect of C1QTNF3 on ovarian growth was accompanied by the initiation of AKT, mTOR, p70S6K and 4EBP1 phosphorylation, an increase in CCND2 expression and a reduction in cleaved CASP3 levels. Moreover, the addition of C1QTNF3 accelerated proliferation and reduced activated CASP3/7 activity in granulosa cells. In vivo, the ovarian intrabursal administration of the C1QTNF3 antibody delayed gonadotropin-induced antral follicle development. Taken together, our data demonstrate that C1QTNF3 is an intraovarian factor that promotes follicle growth by accelerating proliferation, decelerating apoptosis and promoting AKT/mTOR phosphorylation.

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Liuhong Yang, Lei Chen, Xiaosheng Lu, Anni Tan, Yao Chen, Yalan Li, Xuemei Peng, Shaochun Yuan, Dongqing Cai, and Yanhong Yu

Peri-ovarian adipose tissue (POAT) is a kind of intra-abdominal white adipose tissue that is present surrounding the ovaries in rodents. Recent studies demonstrated that POAT-deficient mice displayed a phenotype of delayed antral follicular development, for which decreases in serum estrogen, serum FSH and FSHR levels were responsible. However, folliculogenesis is regulated by endocrine signals and also modulated by a number of locally produced intraovarian factors whose acts are both autocrine and paracrine. Here, we used a model of surgical removal of POAT unilaterally and contralateral ovaries as controls, as both were under the same endocrine control, to assess the paracrine effect of the POAT on folliculogenesis. Surgical removal of unilateral POAT resulted in delayed antral follicular development and the increased number of atretic follicles, accompanied by decreased levels of intraovarian adipokines and growth factors, lipid accumulation and steroidogenic enzyme expression. POAT-deficient ovaries displayed compensatory increased expressions of intraovarian genes, such as Vegf and Adpn for angiogenesis, Acc, Fasn, and Gapdh involved in lipogenesis and Fshr in response to FSH stimulation. Furthermore, we demonstrated that removal of POAT promoted follicular apoptosis, caused retention of cytoplasmic YAP and inhibited PTEN-AKT-mTOR activation. These alterations were observed only in the POAT-deficient ovaries but not in the contralateral ovaries (with POAT), which suggests that a paracrine interaction between POAT and ovaries is important for normal folliculogenesis.