A role for activin in the acquisition of gonadotropin responsiveness by the post-natal rat ovary was investigated. The inhibin/activin subunits in terms of protein and mRNA, were localised in granulosa cells of the rat ovary at days 4, 8 and 12 after birth. A characteristic pattern of responses to FSH for inhibin and progesterone (P) production was established using a dispersed ovarian cell bioassay. P production by day 4, 8 and 12 cultures was stimulated by FSH, but only when iso-butyl-methyl-xanthine (MIX) was present. In contrast, a basal level of inhibin production was measured in day 4 cultures which was not responsive to FSH or MIX. In day 8 and 12 cultures, inhibin production was FSH-responsive, but only in the absence of MIX. The addition of activin to cultures of day 4, 8 and 12 ovarian cells induced FSH-responsive P production and stimulated both basal and FSH-stimulated inhibin production. These studies indicate a differential response of neonatal ovarian cells to FSH in terms of P and inhibin production. Activin may play a role in facilitating the effects of FSH on signal transduction pathways leading to inhibin and steroid production and therefore be part of the mechanism which determines responsiveness of granulosa cells to FSH.
- Follicle stimulating hormone
- Neonatal ovary