Oestrogen receptor alpha and beta, androgen receptor and progesterone receptor mRNA and protein localisation within the developing ovary and in small growing follicles of sheep.Reproduction. 2006 Jan; 131(1):81-92.R
A first step to elucidating the roles that steroids may play in the processes of ovarian development and early follicular growth is to identify the cell types that are likely to be receptive to steroids. Thus, cell types expressing receptors for oestrogen (alpha and beta form; ERalpha and ERbeta respectively), androgen (AR) and progesterone (PR) were determined by in situ hybridisation and immunohistochemistry in ovine ovarian tissues collected during ovarian development and follicular formation (days 26-75 of fetal life) as well as during the early stages of follicular growth. Expression of ERbeta was observed early during ovarian development and continued to be expressed throughout follicular formation and also during the early stages of follicular growth. ERbeta was identified in germ cells as well as in the granulosa cells. At the large preantral stage of follicular growth, expression of ERalpha was also consistently observed in granulosa cells. AR was first consistently observed at day 55 of fetal life in stroma cells throughout the ovary. Within the follicle, expression was observed in granulosa and thecal cells from the type-2 to -3 stage of follicular growth. PR mRNA did not appear to be expressed during ovarian development (days 26-75 of gestation). However, PR (mRNA and protein) was observed in the theca of type-3 (small preantral) and larger follicles, with mRNA -- but not protein -- observed in granulosa cells of some type-4 and 5 follicles. Expression of ERbeta, ERalpha and AR, as well as PR, was also observed in the surface epithelium and ovarian stroma of the fetal, neonatal and adult ovary. Thus, in sheep, steroid hormones have the potential to regulate the function of a number of different ovarian cell types during development, follicular formation and early follicular growth.