Immunolocalization of transforming growth factor, epidermal growth factor (EGF), cripto-1, amphireg-ulin and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) was studied in 51 premenopausal human ovaries at various phases of the menstrual cycle. Localization of mRNA for TGFα and EGF was also studied by in-situ hybridization. Immunoreactive TGF was observed predominantly in theca cells in 12 of 33 antral follicles in the follicular phase (6/14 dominant follicles, and 6/19 non-dominant) but not in any of the 18 follicles in the luteal phase or in primordial and pre-antral follicles. TGF immunoreactivity was present predominantly in the luteinized granulosa cells in 13 of 15 corpora lutea in the luteal phase, which are considered to be active in steroidogenesis, but not in any of the regressed corpora lutea. Accumulation of TGFα mRNA hybridization signal was observed only in the theca cells in the follicles and luteinized theca cells in the ovaries that were immunohistochemically positive. EGFR immunoreactivity was detected in 24 of 33 antral follicles in the follicular phase and in two of 18 follicles in the luteal phase but not in any of the corpora lutea. Immunoreactive EGF, cripto-1 and amphiregulin or EGF mRNA was not detected in any follicles, corpora lutea, or the stroma cells examined. These results indicate that, of the epidermal growth factors examined in this study, TGFα is locally synthesized in normal cycling human ovaries and TGFα may be synthesized in theca cells and act on the granulosa cells in a paracrine fashion through the EGFR in ovarian follicles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas