Studies localizing steroid receptor (R) proteins and their mRNAs to the primate ovary are consistent with a local role for progesterone (P) and androgen (A) in modulating follicle growth and/or maturation via classic R- mediated pathways, but data in support of estrogen (E) action remain equivocal. Investigations of the hypothesis that steroids play a pivotal role in folliculogenesis or gametogenesis in macaques receiving inhibitors of steroid enzyme synthesis and in women with congenital steroid enzyme deficiencies reveal that (a) antral follicle growth, maturation, and luteinization, as well as oocyte meiosis, do not require high or increasing E levels; (b) elevated A to E ratios are detrimental to the gametogenic functions of the primate follicle, but do not alter growth and maturation of antral follicles; and (c) ovulation and luteinization of the mature follicle are dependent on local P actions. The genomic actions of steroids likely vary between compartments and with the developmental state of the follicle; however, potential nongenomic actions of steroids in follicles remain largely undefined. Future advances will rely on identification of discrete biochemical, morphological and functional correlates of steroid hormone action in the somatic and gametogenic compartments of the primate follicle throughout its life cycle.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism