Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) regulates granulosa cell (GC) steroidogenesis and suppresses apoptosis in non-ovarian cells. The hypothesis was thus developed that intraovarian HGF supports folliculogenesis by mediating steroidogenesis and suppressing apoptosis. To investigate the latter, the anti-apoptotic actions of HGF were tested in GCs and follicles isolated from immature rats. Results showed that HGF suppressed apoptosis in GC and follicle cultures as visualized using apoptosis indicator dye, YO-PRO-1. Immunohistochemistry was used to investigate the distribution of HGF, c-met, and HGF activator (HGFA) protein during foiliculogenesis in equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG)-primed rats. Immunoreactive HGF content was the greatest in GCs within preantral follicles. Following eCG, large antral follicles showed elevated HGF staining in theca and interstitial cells when compared with GCs. Intense c-met staining was observed in GCs within non-primed small preantral follicles; following eCG, the level of c-met was diminished in GCs, but increased within theca and interstitial cells. Theca, interstitium, and GCs in non-primed and primed ovaries contained HGFA. Following eCG, HGFA was more apparent in theca cells and the interstitium when compared to that in GCs within large antral follicles. The presence of HGF, c-met, and HGFA in preantral follicles would potentially enable the anti-apoptotic effects of HGF that were observed in vitro to occur in vivo. Advanced folliculogenesis led to a change in the cellular distribution of the HGF, c-met, and HGFA, suggesting that the ovarian HGF system is hormonally regulated in vivo.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Reproductive Medicine
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Cell Biology