Dietary galactose inhibits GDF-9 mediated follicular development in the rat ovary
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Clinical evidence suggests an association between galactosemia and premature ovarian failure, but the mechanism is still not fully understood. Growth differentiation factor-9 (GDF-9) is thought to be an obligatory growth factor during the gonadotropin-independent phase of folliculogenesis. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of galactose on initiation of folliculogenesis in the peripubertal interval and the connection between galactose toxicity and GDF-9 expression in the ovary. After immature Long-Evans rats (n = 10) were fed a diet consisting of 20% galactose for 19 days, whole body, ovary and uterine weights were measured. Serum estradiol and progesterone concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay. Ovarian follicles were counted by morphometric analysis and GDF-9 expression was investigated by immunohistochemistry and immunoblot assay. Galactose treatment did not affect the onset of puberty as marked by the time of vaginal opening. The galactose diet significantly decreased the number of healthy growing follicles. The results of immunoblot assay showed that both bands corresponding to propeptide and mature forms of GDF-9 decreased with the galactose diet about 90 and 70%, respectively. The results of immunohistochemical staining showed that the GDF-9 positive follicle number and the ratio of GDF-9 positive to GDF negative (primordial/non-growing) follicles significantly decreased with this high galactose diet. The present study suggests that a high galactose diet inhibits follicular development, possibly through down-regulation of GDF-9 in the rat ovary, implying that GDF-9 may be involved in galactose-related ovarian toxicity.
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