In situ hybridization and immunohistochemical localization of cytochrome P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage (P450scc), 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3βHSD), cytochrome P450 17α-hydroxylase (P450c3) and cytochrome P450 aromatase (P450arom) was performed in 50 morphologically normal human premenopausal ovaries, and correlated these findings with their endometrial phase. In general, mRNA expression of these enzymes examined by in situ hybridization were in good agreement with immunolocalization examined by immunohistochemistry. Expression of P450scc, 3β HSD and P450cl7 was observed in large-sized preantral follicles, consisting of more than five layers of granulosa cells, preovulatory follicles, corpora lutea, and some degenerating corpora lutea and atretic follicles in all endometrial phases. Several follicles and/or corpora lutea positive for these enzymes were observed in the same ovary. Expression of P450arom was generally observed in only one follicle (antral or preovulatory follicle) or corpus luteum per case in mid proliferative to premenstrual phase, and was not observed in menstrual to early proliferative phase. These findings indicated that (1) expression of steroidogenic enzymes was associated with the continual human ovarian process including follicular development and atresia, and (2) especially, P450arom expression may occur only in a selected antral follicle and may have an important role in dominant follicular development.
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