The follicle-deplete mouse ovary produces androgen

Loretta P. Mayer, Patrick J. Devine, Cheryl A. Dyer, Patricia B. Hoyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


The follicle-depleted postmenopausal ovary is enriched in interstitial cells that produce androgens. This study was designed to cause follicle depletion in mice using the industrial chemical, 4-vinylcyclohexene diepoxide (VCD), and characterize the steroidogenic capacity of cells in the residual ovarian tissue. From a dose-finding study, the optimal daily concentration of VCD was determined to be 160 mg/kg. Female B6C3F1 immature mice were treated daily with vehicle control or VCD (160 mg kg-1 day -1, 15 days, i.p.). Ovaries were removed and processed for histological evaluation. On Day 15 following onset of treatment, primordial follicles were depleted and primary follicles were reduced to about 10% of controls. On Day 46, primary follicles were depleted and secondary and antral follicles were reduced to 0.7% and 2.6% of control, respectively. Seventy-five percent of treated mice displayed disruptions in estrous cyclicity. All treated mice were in persistent diestrus (acyclic) by Day 58. Plasma FSH levels were increased (P < 0.05) relative to controls on Day 37 and had plateaued by Day 100. Relative to age-matched cyclic controls, by Day 127, the significant differences in VCD-treated mice included reduced ovarian and uterine weights, elevated plasma LH and FSH, and reduced plasma progesterone and androstenedione. Furthermore, plasma 17β-estradiol levels were nondetectable. Unlike controls, immunostaining for LH receptor, and the high density lipoprotein receptor (SR-BI), was diffuse in ovarian sections from VCD-treated animals. Ovaries from Day 120 control and VCD-treated animals were dissociated and dispersed cells were placed in culture. Cultured cells from ovaries of VCD-treated animals produced less LH-stimulated progesterone than control cells. Androstenedione production was nondetectable in cells from cyclic control animals. Conversely, cells from VCD-treated animals produced androstenedione that was doubled in the presence of insulin and LH (1 and 3 ng/ml). Collectively, these data demonstrate that VCD-mediated follicle depletion results in residual ovarian tissue that may be analogous to the follicle-deplete postmenopausal ovary. This may serve as a useful animal model to examine the dynamics of follicle loss in women as ovarian senescence ensues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-138
Number of pages9
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Interstitial cells
  • Steroid hormones
  • Theca cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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