The role of E2 on primordial follicle formation was examined by treating neonatal hamsters with 1 or 2 μg estradiol cypionate (ECP) at age postnatal d 1 (P1) and P4 or by in vitro culture of embryonic d 15 (E15) ovaries with 1, 5, or 10 ng/ml estradiol-17β (E2). The specificity of E2 action was examined by ICI 182,780. One microgram of ECP maintained serum levels of E2 within the physiological range, significantly reduced apoptosis, and stimulated the formation and development of primordial follicles. In contrast, 2 μg ECP increased serum E2 levels to 400 pg/ml and had significantly less influence on primordial follicle formation. In vivo, ICI 182,780 significantly increased apoptosis and caused a modest reduction in primordial follicle formation. The formation and development of primordial follicles in vitro increased markedly with 1 ng/ml E2, and the effect was blocked by ICI 182,780. Higher doses of E2 had no effect on primordial follicle formation but significantly up-regulated apoptosis, which was blocked by ICI 182,780. CYP19A1 mRNA expression occurred by E13 and increased with the formation of primordial follicles. P4 ovaries synthesized E2 from testosterone, which increased further by FSH. Both testosterone and FSH maintained ovarian CYP19A1 mRNA, but FSH up-regulated the expression. These results suggest that neonatal hamster ovaries produce E2 under FSH control and that E2 action is essential for the survival and differentiation of somatic cells and the oocytes leading to the formation and development of primordial follicles. This supportive action of E2 is lost when hormone levels increase above a threshold.
ASJC Scopus subject areas