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M-A Hattori, E Yoshino, Y Shinohara, R Horiuchi, and I Kojima


It is well known that epidermal growth factor (EGF) induces down-regulation of LH receptors and desensitization to gonadotrophin stimulation in gonadal cells, including granulosa cells. In a previous study we showed that EGF receptor levels in rat granulosa cells were increased up to fourfold after 96 h of culture with human GH in the presence of FSH, and the present study has evaluated the action of EGF on these cells. The induced EGF receptors were identical in size to the pre-existing receptors as assessed by affinity labelling with 125I-EGF. After 48 h in culture, various amounts of EGF (0·5–10 ng) were added and the cells were cultured for a further 48 h. The addition of EGF caused down-regulation of LH receptors in cells expressing high levels of EGF receptors. However, this down-regulation was less than that in control cells. After the cells were washed, cAMP synthesis in response to human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) increased by two to three times the control value and this increase was closely correlated with an increase in EGF receptor content. However, stimulation with cholera toxin or forskolin showed no such augmentation, indicating that it may not be due to quantitative alterations in G proteins and their effector systems. Induction of EGF potentiation required long-term exposure to EGF, for at least more than 24 h. In addition, progesterone synthesis was sensitive to stimulation with lower doses of hCG. These findings indicate that the activation of hGH-induced EGF receptors may potentiate gonadotrophin action in granulosa cells.