Follicular development in the mammalian ovary is a complex process regulated by an orchestrated action of the pituitary gonadotropins, e.g., follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), and local ovarian factors, such as peptide growth factors and steroids. The mechanism of endocrine/paracrine/autocrine regulation of folliculogenesis (i.e., cell proliferation and functions) has been addressed largely by biochemical means. However, the availability of immunological and molecular tools now enables us to undertake critical microscopic studies revealing the ovarian cell‐type specific synthesis and/or accumulation of many of these local peptide modulators, their roles in the proliferation and differentiation of follicular cells, and their regulation by gonadotropins and local factors. The objective of this review is to provide a comprehensive yet complete picture of the endocrine/autocrine regulation of mammalian folliculogenesis as revealed by microscopic studies. Efforts have been made to include adequate research information relevant to update our understanding of the process of follicular development; however, to maintain the brevity, many equally important studies could not be included. This review confirms that FSH and LH are still the primary stimuli for follicular development. However, it is clear that the actions of these hormones at the cell level involve a host of peptide factors which are produced locally by different follicular cell types and which are powerful modulators of gonadotropin actions. The temporal and spatial expression of the genes of these modulators, the synthesis of active factors, their interactions, and the dynamics of their receptors on the follicular cell surface may be the ultimate determinants of cellular events which are crucial to coordinated growth and differentiation of follicular cells leading to folliculogenesis and ovulation. © 1994 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
- Growth factor
- In situ hybridization
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medical Laboratory Technology