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MA Hattori, N Nishida, K Takesue, Y Kato, and N Fujihara

The present study was designed to evaluate the regulation of nitric oxide (NO) synthesis in porcine oocytes during follicular development. Cumulus-oocyte complexes were obtained by aspirating the small follicles of immature porcine ovaries and cultured at 39 degrees C for 24-72 h with FSH in a serum-free medium. The oocyte-surrounding cumulus cells markedly proliferated and expressed LH receptor mRNA in response to FSH. The endothelial type of NO synthase (eNOS) (130 kDa) was detected in the oocyte, but not in the proliferated cumulus cells, by immunoblotting. The amount of oocyte eNOS did not significantly alter during culture, but measurement of nitrite and nitrate revealed FSH suppression of NO synthesis by approximately 50%. NO-releasing agents were added to the cultures to examine the effect of NO on the growth of cumulus cells. NO-releasing agents showed inhibitory effects on proliferation of the cumulus cells and expression of LH receptor mRNA. Thus, synthesis of eNOS-derived NO is suppressed in the porcine oocyte during development with no change in the enzyme amount, and it is suggested that it has an inhibitory function in the growth of cumulus cells.

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M Hattori, K Takesue, N Nishida, Y Kato, and N Fujihara

The present study investigated the effect of retinoic acid (RA) on the differentiation of granulosa cells prepared from porcine ovaries. The granulosa cells were precultured for 15 h, then cultured for 48 h with FSH and further treated for 24 h with LH in order to induce their transformation into luteal cells. After the cells had been exposed to 1 microM retinoids (RA, retinal and retinol) for 87 h, analysis of the LH receptor mRNA expression, an indicator of granulosa cell differentiation, was carried out by using semiquantitative RT-PCR. The results showed that there was a decrease in LH receptor mRNA levels, and that RA had a more potent effect on these levels than the other two retinoids. When cells were exposed to RA in the immature stage (before the addition of FSH) or the early stage of development (0-24 h after the addition of FSH), expression of LH receptor mRNA was greatly diminished. When the immature cells were cultured for 15 h with RA, then washed and cultured for 48 h with FSH and for 24 h with LH, the expression of LH receptor mRNA was not reversed. In the differentiated cells (24 h after the addition of FSH), however, RA no longer had any inhibitory effect. When the immature cells were exposed to RA, FSH-induced expression of c-fos mRNA was markedly decreased. In contrast, expression of c-jun and activating transcription factor-4 mRNAs remained constant. However, the expression of c-fos mRNA was not decreased by forskolin. The results indicate that RA is a potent inhibitor in the immature stage of porcine granulosa cell differentiation, probably through decreased expression of FSH receptor, but that RA does not inhibit differentiation in the mature stage of the cells.

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K Takesue, MA Hattori, N Nishida, Y Kato, and N Fujihara

The present study was designed to investigate nitric oxide (NO) synthesis and the expression of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) gene in cultured porcine granulosa cells. Granulosa cells prepared from small follicles (1-4 mm diameter) were cultured in plastic dishes coated with fibronectin in chemically defined medium, and matured after 48 h of stimulation with FSH. The concentrations of nitrite and nitrate remained relatively constant until 42 h of stimulation, after which they increased significantly up to twofold at 48 h. NO synthesis was accompanied by an increase in cGMP. Gene expression for eNOS was studied by RT-PCR, and a PCR product of the expected size amplified. eNOS mRNA was expressed in the presence of FSH, but not in the absence of FSH. Although eNOS mRNA was not expressed in the initial period, it was expressed after 12 h of stimulation with FSH, and remained at a relatively constant level until 48 h. Expression of eNOS mRNA preceded expression of LH receptor mRNA, which showed a maximal level at 24 h of stimulation. These observations suggest that eNOS expression is not related to a rapid synthesis of NO in developing granulosa cells, and that the activation of NO synthesis is rigidly regulated in the initial period of development.