Maintenance of oestradiol production and expression of cytochrome P450 aromatase enzyme mRNA in long-term serum-free cultures of pig granulosa cells

in Reproduction
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Studies were carried out to investigate the conditions required for maintenance of aromatase activity and expression in long-term cultures of pig granulosa cells. Cells from large (> 2 mm) and small (≤ 2 mm) follicles were cultured at 37°C with 5% CO2 in McCoys 5a medium supplemented with 0.1% (w/v) BSA, testosterone (100 μg l−1), insulin (10 μg l−1) and long R3 insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) (100 μg l−1). Cells were cultured with five concentrations of USDA pFSH-I-2 (0–100 μg l−1) for 48, 96 or 144 h with or without fetal calf serum (FCS). The number of cells and oestradiol, progesterone and inhibin production were measured. In marked contrast to oestradiol production from cells cultured in plates precoated with FCS, 1 μg FSH l−1 was optimal for the maintenance of high oestradiol production by granulosa cells from large follicles after 144 h of serum-free culture. Culture with FCS promoted cell proliferation, reduced oestradiol production, and supported FSH-dependent (P < 0.01) increased progesterone and inhibin production indicating cellular luteinization. Northern blot analysis of total RNA from cells cultured with 1 μg FSH l−1 detected 2.5 and 1.8 kb transcripts encoding aromatase cytochrome P450 (P450arom) and cholesterol side-chain cleavage cytochrome P450 (P450scc), respectively. Transcript expression was hormone sensitive, irrespective of the presence of FCS. High concentrations of FSH (100 μg l−1) stimulated expression of P450scc, but inhibited P450arom expression as the cells luteinized after 144 h of culture. This serum-free system, which maintains the aromatase enzyme complex, is fundamental if physiologically relevant observations are to be made of the mechanisms regulating follicle hierarchy development from long-term cultures of pig cells.

 

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