Open Access Research

Follicle-stimulating hormone responsiveness in antral follicles from aryl hydrocarbon receptor knockout mice

Isabel Hernández-Ochoa12, Liying Gao1, Jackye Peretz1, Mallikarjuna S Basavarajappa1, Stacey L Bunting1, Bethany N Karman1, Tessie Paulose1 and Jodi A Flaws1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Comparative Biosciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois 61802, USA

2 Departamento de Toxicología, Cinvestav-IPN, México, D F 07360, México

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Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2013, 11:26  doi:10.1186/1477-7827-11-26

Published: 1 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Previous studies have demonstrated that pre-pubertal aryl hydrocarbon receptor knockout (AHRKO) mice have slow antral follicle growth and reduced capacity to produce estradiol compared to wild-type (WT) mice. Although previous studies have suggested that this is likely due to a reduced ability of the AHRKO follicles to respond to follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), this possibility was not directly tested. Thus, the goal of these studies was to test the hypothesis that low FSH responsiveness is responsible for the slow growth and reduced estradiol production observed in pre-pubertal AHRKO versus WT antral follicles.

Methods

Antral follicles from WT and AHRKO mice were cultured with varying amounts of FSH (0–15 IU/mL) for up to 7 days, and subjected to measurements of growth, FSH receptor and steroidogenic regulator expression, sex steroid hormone levels, and inhibin beta-A expression. General linear models (GLM) for repeated measures were used to compare follicle diameters over time among treatments. If the global tests from GLM were significant, Tukey’s tests were used for pairwise comparisons. Remaining comparisons among groups were performed using one-way analysis of variance followed by Tukey’s post hoc test.

Results

The results indicate that FSH stimulated growth in both WT and AHRKO follicles, but that high levels of FSH (10–15 IU/mL) were required for AHRKO follicles to reach maximal growth, whereas lower levels of FSH (5 IU/mL) were required for WT follicles to reach maximal growth. Further, FSH stimulated expression of FSH receptor, steroidogenic factors, and inhibin beta-A as well as production of steroid hormones in both WT and AHRKO follicles, but the degree of stimulation differed betw een WT and AHRKO follicles. Interestingly, FSH treatment increased expression of FSH receptor, some steroidogenic regulators, inhibin beta-A, and steroid hormone production more in AHRKO follicles compared to WT follicles.

Conclusions

Collectively, these data suggest that the slow growth, but not reduced steroidogenesis in AHRKO follicles, is due to their reduced ability to respond to FSH compared to WT follicles. These data also suggest that the AHR may contribute to the ability of FSH to stimulate proper follicle growth, but it may not contribute to FSH-induced steroidogenesis.

Keywords:
Aryl hydrocarbon receptor; Ovary; Follicle growth; FSH; Inhibin A; Steroidogenesis