Development-related increase in cortisol biosynthesis by human granulosa cells

P Y Yong, K J Thong, R Andrew, B R Walker, S G Hillier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Antiinflammatory mechanisms are important in ovulation and may be regulated by cortisol (F). We previously showed that after administration of human (h)CG for ovulation induction, luteinized granulosa cells (LGC) abundantly express 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11betaHSD1) messenger RNA but not 11betaHSD type 2 (11betaHSD2) messenger RNA. 11ssHSD1 is responsible for the reversible formation of antiinflammatory F from its inactive precursor cortisone (E), whereas 11betaHSD2 unidirectionally converts F to E through 11-oxidation. This pattern of gene expression predicts that LGC from periovulatory follicles would show increased activation of E to F, compared with granulosa cells from immature follicles (IGC), and that follicular fluid concentrations of E and F would alter accordingly. To test this hypothesis, we isolated IGC, thecal cells (TC), and follicular fluid, from ovaries of cyclic women, removed during surgery for benign gynecological disease. LGC and follicular fluid were aspirated from periovulatory follicles, 35 h after hCG injection, in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment. In an 11betaHSD assay based on interconversion of tritiated E and F by cell suspensions in vitro, IGC (% conversion, 0.6 +/- 0.4, mean +/- SEM) and collagenase-dispersed TC (0.2 +/- 0.1%) were unable to convert E to F, whereas LGC (36.3 +/- 3.7%) were highly efficient at this reaction. Immature granulosa cells, LGC, and (to a lesser extent) TC were all able to convert F to E. Correspondingly, follicular fluid concentrations of total F and F:E ratios were significantly higher in periovulatory follicles, compared with immature follicles. Culturing IGC for 48 h in the presence of hFSH resulted in increased 11betaHSD1 reductase activity, paralleling stimulation of estrogen (aromatase activity) and progesterone biosynthesis. Similar treatment with hLH did not influence 11betaHSD1 reductase activity, except in a patient with more mature IGC, which also showed a significant increase in E-to-F conversion, as well as progesterone synthesis in response to hLH. These data confirm that 11betaHSD activity in the human ovary is developmentally regulated and gonadotropin responsive, favoring metabolism of F to E in immature follicles and E to F in periovulatory follicles. Increased formation of F by LGC in periovulatory follicles is consistent with an antiinflammatory function for this glucocorticoid at ovulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4728-33
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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