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Theca cells and the regulation of ovarian androgen production

Knight, P. and Glister, C. (2014) Theca cells and the regulation of ovarian androgen production. In: Juengel, J. L., Miyamoto, A., Price, C., Reynolds, L. P., Smith, M. F. and Webb, R. (eds.) Reproduction in Domestic Ruminants. Bioscientifica Proceedings, VIII. Context, Ashby de la Zouche, pp. 295-310. ISBN 9781899043637

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1530/biosciprocs.8.021


Theca cells are essential for female reproduction being the source of androgens that are precursors for follicular oestrogen synthesis and also signal through androgen receptors (AR) in the ovary and elsewhere. Theca cells arise from mesenchymal cells around the secondary follicle stage. Their recruitment, proliferation and cytodifferentiation are influenced, directly or indirectly, by paracrine signals from granulosa cells and oocyte although uncertainty remains over which are the critically important signals at particular stages. In a reciprocal manner, theca cells secrete factors that influence granulosa cell proliferation and differentiation at different follicle stages. Differentiated theca interna cells acquire responsiveness to luteinizing hormone (LH) and other endocrine signals and express components of the steroidogenic machinery required for androgen biosynthesis. They also express insulin-like peptide 3 (INSL3) and its receptor (RXFP2), levels of which increase during bovine antral follicle development. INSL3 signaling may play a role in promoting androgen biosynthesis since knockdown of either INSL3 or its receptor (RXFP2) in bovine theca cells inhibits androgen biosynthesis while exogenous INSL3 can raise androgen secretion. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) of thecal or granulosal origin suppress thecal production of both INSL3 and androgen. Inhibin, produced in greatest amounts by granulosa cells of preovulatory follicles, reverses these BMP actions. Thus, BMP-induced inhibition of thecal androgen production may be mediated by reduced INSL3-RXFP2 signaling. Activins also inhibit androgen production in an inhibin-reversible manner and recent evidence in sheep indicates that theca cells synthesize and secrete activin, implying an autocrine role in suppressing androgen biosynthesis in smaller follicles, akin to that envisaged for BMPs.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Biomedical Sciences
ID Code:37786
Additional Information:Proceedings of the 9th International Ruminant Reproduction Symposium (9th IRRS) Obihiro, Japan August 2014


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