Although the rat intraovarian insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) system is well documented, the increasing availability of null mouse mutants for components of the IGF system necessitates characterization of the mouse model as well. Therefore, we undertook to define the components of the mouse intraovarian IGF-I system and to examine its operational characteristics. The cellular pattern of ovarian gene expression was comparable in the immature rat and mouse for IGF-I and the type I IGF receptor. In both species, IGF-I messenger RNA (mRNA) is selectively expressed by granulosa cells in growing, healthy appearing follicles. Type I IGF receptor mRNA was also concentrated in granulosa cells, but was uniformly expressed in all follicles large and small, healthy and atretic appearing alike. Cellular patterns of IGF-binding protein (IGFBP) gene expression were similar in mouse and rat, except in the case of IGFBP-2. IGFBP-2 mRNA was localized to the mouse granulosa cell, in contrast to its concentration in the rat thecal-interstitial compartment. This difference in IGFBP expression pattern was also noted in cultured mouse and rat granulosa cells. Although immunoreactive IGFBP-4 (24 and 28 kDa) and IGFBP-5 (29 kDa) were shared by both species, the cultured mouse granulosa cell also featured immunoreactive IGFBP-2 (30 kDa). The mouse paradigm further differed from its rat counterpart in that a maximal dose of FSH, previously shown to suppress the elaboration of rat granulosa cell-derived IGFBPs, was without effect. The addition of IGF-I proved stimulatory to the accumulation of the 28- to 29-kDa IGFBPs, as previously reported for the rat. However, IGF-I proved inhibitory to the accumulation of the 24-kDa IGFBP (presumptive nonglycosylated IGFBP-4) no consistent effect was reported for the rat model. Functional comparisons of mouse and rat ovarian cell cultures revealed qualitatively comparable FSH-stimulated steroidogenesis, disposition of radiolabeled pregnenolone, IGF-I-amplified FSH action, and IGFBP-mediated antigonadotropic activity. These findings indicate that the mouse intrafollicular IGF-I system differs from the rat paradigm in both the makeup and regulation of granulosa cell-derived IGFBPs as well as in the intensity and character of the steroidogenic process. Studies employing the mouse model must take into account these important distinctions relative to the more established rat paradigm.
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