What maintains the high intra-follicular estradiol concentration in pre-ovulatory follicles?
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PURPOSE: The purpose of the study was to establish the mechanism by which the estrogen concentration difference between the follicular fluid and the serum is maintained. METHODS: We used dialysis membrane with a pore size of <3 KD to characterize the estrogen-binding capacity of the follicular fluid. We performed PCR, western blot, and ELISA on luteinized granulosa cells to determine if sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is produced by granulosa cells, and finally we used affinity columns and mass spectrometry to identify the estrogen-binding protein in the follicular fluid. RESULTS: We found that a significant estrogen concentration difference is maintained in a cell-free system and is lost with proteolysis of the follicular fluid proteins. Luteinized granulosa cells are likely not a source of SHBG, as we were not able to detect expression of SHBG in these cells. Perlecan was the most highly enriched follicular fluid protein in the affinity columns. CONCLUSIONS: We were able to identify perlecan as the most likely candidate for the major estrogen-binding protein in the follicular fluid.
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