Vasoactive intestinal peptide enhances aromatase activity in the neonatal rat ovary before development of primary follicles or responsiveness to follicle-stimulating hormone.

F. W. George, Sergio Ojeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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We have investigated the factors that regulate aromatase activity in fetal-neonatal rat ovaries. Ovarian aromatase activity (assessed by measuring the amount of 3H2O) formed from [1 beta-3H]testosterone) is low prior to birth (less than 0.5 pmol/hr per mg of protein) and increases to values greater than 30 pmol/hr per mg of protein between days 8 and 12 after birth. The appearance of ovarian aromatase (postnatal days 2-4) coincides with the development of primordial follicles. Fetal-neonatal ovaries maintained in serum-free organ culture do not develop aromatase activity at the expected time. Ovine follicle-stimulating hormone (0.1-1 microgram/ml), ovine luteinizing hormone (0.1 microgram/ml), or their combination failed to induce the enzyme activity in cultured fetal ovaries, whereas follicle-stimulating hormone is effective in preventing the decline in aromatase activity when postnatal day 8 ovaries are placed in culture. In contrast to follicle-stimulating hormone, dibutyryl-cAMP markedly enhances ovarian aromatase in cultured fetal ovaries. Likewise, enhancement of endogenous cAMP formation with forskolin or cholera toxin caused an increase in enzyme activity within 24 hr. Vasoactive intestinal peptide, a peptide known to occur in ovarian nerves, caused a dose-dependent increase in aromatase activity in fetal ovaries prior to folliculogenesis. Of related peptides tested, only the peptide having N-terminal histidine and C-terminal isoleucine amide was capable of inducing aromatase activity in fetal ovaries. The fact that VIP can induce aromatase activity in fetal rat ovaries prior to follicle formation and prior to responsiveness to follicle-stimulating hormone suggests that this neuropeptide may play a critical role in ovarian differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5803-5807
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1987
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • Genetics

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