Date of this Version
MOLECULAR REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT 71:480–488 (2005); DOI 10.1002/mrd.20338
The first critical transition in follicular development, the activation of primordial follicles to leave the pool of resting follicles and begin growth, is poorly understood, but it appears that the balance between inhibitory and stimulatory factors is important in regulating the exodus of follicles from the resting pool. There is evidence that anti-Mu¨llerian hormone (AMH; also known as MIS) inhibits follicle activation in mice, but whether it plays a similar role in non rodent species is not known. When pieces of bovine ovarian cortex, rich in primordial follicles, are cultured in serum-free medium, most follicles initiate growth, but when cortical pieces are grafted beneath the chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) of chick embryos, follicle activation does not occur. Since embryonic chick gonads of both sexes produce and secrete high levels of AMH, the hypothesis that the AMH in the chick circulation inhibits follicle activation was tested. In Experiment 1, whole newborn mouse ovaries were grafted beneath the CAM (placed ‘‘in ovo’’) or cultured in vitro for 8 days. In vitro (or after 8 days in vivo) follicles activated and proceeded to the primary or secondary stage, but activation was suppressed in ovo. This inhibition was reversed if ovaries were removed from beneath the CAM and cultured in vitro. In contrast, when ovaries from mice null mutant for the AMH type II receptor were CAM-grafted in Experiment 2, follicle activation occurred in a similar fashion to activation in vitro. This finding strongly implicates AMH as the inhibitor of follicle activation in ovo. Since chick embryonic gonads are the source of circulating AMH, chicks were gonadectomized in Experiment 3, prior to grafting of pieces of bovine ovarian cortex beneath their CAMs. Bovine primordial follicles activated in the gonadectomized chicks, similar to the results for mice lacking the AMH type II receptor. Taken together these experiments provide strong evidence that AMH is the inhibitor of mouse follicle activation present in the circulation of embryonic chicks and provide indirect, and hence more tentative, evidence for AMH as an inhibitor of bovine follicle activation.