Summary. Dispersed granulosa and theca interna cells were recovered from follicles of prepubertal gilts at 36, 72 and 108 h after treatment with 750 i.u. PMSG, followed 72 h later with 500 i.u. hCG to stimulate follicular growth and ovulation. In the absence of aromatizable substrate, theca interna cells produced substantially more oestrogen than did granulosa cells. Oestrogen production was increased markedly in the presence of androstenedione and testosterone in granulosa cells but only to a limited extent in theca interna cells. The ability of both cellular compartments to produce oestrogen increased up to 72 h with androstenedione being the preferred substrate. Oestrogen production by the two cell types incubated together was greater than the sum produced when incubated alone. Theca interna cells were the principal source of androgen, predominantly androstenedione. Thecal androgen production increased with follicular development and was enhanced by addition of pregnenolone or by LH 36 and 72 h after PMSG treatment. The ability of granulosa and thecal cells to produce progesterone increased with follicular development and addition of pregnenolone. After exposure of developing follicles to hCG in vivo, both cell types lost their ability to produce oestrogen. Thecal cells continued to produce androgen and progesterone but no longer responded to LH in vitro. These studies indicate that several functional changes in the steroidogenic abilities of the granulosa and theca interna compartments occur during follicular maturation.
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