Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Journal of Ovarian Research and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research

Functional significance of the signal transduction pathways Akt and Erk in ovarian follicles: in vitro and in vivo studies in cattle and sheep

Kate E Ryan1, Claire Glister3, Pat Lonergan1, Finian Martin2, Phil G Knight3 and Alexander CO Evans1*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Agriculture Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, Conway Institute, College of Life Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

2 School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, Conway Institute, College of Life Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

3 School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AJ, UK

For all author emails, please log on.

Journal of Ovarian Research 2008, 1:2  doi:10.1186/1757-2215-1-2

Published: 1 October 2008

Abstract

Background

The intracellular signalling mechanisms that regulate ovarian follicle development are unclear; however, we have recently shown differences in the Akt and Erk signalling pathways in dominant compared to subordinate follicles. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of inhibiting Akt and Erk phosphorylation on IGF- and gonadotropin- stimulated granulosa and theca cell function in vitro, and on follicle development in vivo.

Methods

Bovine granulosa and theca cells were cultured for six days and stimulated with FSH and/or IGF, or LH in combination with PD98059 (Erk inhibitor) and/or LY294002 (Akt inhibitor) and their effect on cell number and hormone secretion (estradiol, activin-A, inhibin-A, follistatin, progesterone and androstenedione) determined. In addition, ovarian follicles were treated in vivo with PD98059 and/or LY294002 in ewes on Day 3 of the cycle and follicles were recovered 48 hours later.

Results

We have shown that gonadotropin- and IGF-stimulated hormone production by granulosa and theca cells is reduced by treatment with PD98059 and LY294002 in vitro. Furthermore, treatment with PD98059 and LY294002 reduced follicle growth and oestradiol production in vivo.

Conclusion

These results demonstrate an important functional role for the Akt and Erk signalling pathways in follicle function, growth and development.