The production of a mature oocyte is the major function of the female gonad. This process depends on highly coordinated interplay between all the components of the ovarian follicle, i.e. the oocyte surrounded by epithelial-derived granulosa cells and mesenchymal- derived theca cells. Follicular growth and oocyte maturation are dependent primarily on pituitary-derived gonadotropins, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). However, other bioactive molecules play an important role during this process. In fact, granulosa and theca cells as well as the oocytes are the site of synthesis and/or action of a number of locally-released factors that promote the complex regulation of follicular development. The elucidation of these factors is critical to understand ovarian physiology and pathology.
Keywords: Autocrine/paracrine signalling, ovary, follicle, oocyte, mammals, epithelial-derived granulosa cells, mesenchymal-derived theca cells, gonadotropins, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH)
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