Bovine Thecal Cells Secrete Factor(s) That Promote Granulosa Cell Proliferation1
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To determine if soluble factors (other than steroids) secreted by bovine thecal cells may be involved in local regulation of follicular development, we examined the effects of thecal cell secretory products on the growth of granulosa cells obtained from the same follicles. DNA synthesis (assessed by the incorporation of 3H-thymidine) by granulosa cells plated on coverslips and cocultured with, but not directly in contact with, thecal cells in organ culture dishes in a serum-free medium was 5-fold greater than controls. The effect of the thecal cell-secreted products on DNA synthesis by granulosa cells was significantly higher than the maximum response produced by epidermal growth factor (EGF). Thecal cell-conditioned medium stimulated 3H-thymidine incorporation into the DNA of granulosa cells and a normal rat kidney cell line in a dose-dependent manner. The increases in 3H-thymidine incorporation into granulosa cell DNA subsequently lead to an increase in cell number. Preliminary characterization studies using ultrafiltration membranes indicated that the mitogenic factor was retained in the greater than 10,000 molecular weight fraction. The activity was stable to heating at 90 degrees C for 5 min and was not extracted in ether. The thecal cell-generated growth factor may act as a paracrine regulator of granulosa cell growth, thus providing the dominant follicle with autonomy over other follicles in the cohort.
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