Ovarian innervation develops before initiation of folliculogenesis in the rat

Sasha Malamed, Jean A. Gibney, Sergio R. Ojeda

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    60 Scopus citations


    Sympathetic neurotransmitters have been shown to be present in the ovary of the rat during early postnatal development and to affect steroidogenesis before the ovary becomes responsive to gonadotropins, and before the first primordial follicles are formed. This study was undertaken to determine if development of the ovarian innervation is an event that antedates the initiation of folliculogenesis in the rat, Rattus norvegicus. Serial sections of postnatal ovaries revealed a negligible frequency of follicles 24 h after birth (about 1 primordial follicle per ovary). Twelve hours later there were about 500 follicles per ovary, a number that more than doubled to about 1300 during the subsequent 12 h, indicating that an explosive period of follicular differentiation occurs between the end of postnatal days 1 and 2. Electron microscopy demonstrated that before birth the ovaries are already innervated by fibers containing clear and dense-core vesicles. Immunohistochemistry performed on either fetal (day 19) or newborn (less than 15h after birth) ovaries showed the presence of catecholaminergic nerves, identified by their content of immunoreactive tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme in catecholamine biosynthesis. While some of these fibers innervate blood vessels, others are associated with primordial ovarian cells, thereby suggesting their participation in non-vascular functions. Since prefollicular ovaries are insensitive to gonadotropins, the results suggest that the developing ovary becomes subjected to direct neurogenic influences before it acquires responsiveness to gonadotropins.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)87-93
    Number of pages7
    JournalCell & Tissue Research
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Oct 1992


    • Development
    • Electron microscopy
    • Folliculogenesis
    • Immunohistochemistry
    • Ovarian nerves
    • Rat (Sprague Dawley)
    • Tyrosine hydroxylase

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
    • Histology
    • Cell Biology


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