Activins and inhibins play important roles in the development, growth and function of the ovary. Mice lacking inhibin develop granulosa cell tumours in their ovaries that secrete activin A, and these tumours are modulated by increased activin C expression. The aim of the present study was to identify where activin C is expressed in mouse and human ovaries and whether overexpression of activin C modulates normal follicular development in mice. Immunohistochemical staining for the activin βC subunit was performed on sections from mouse and human ovaries and human adult granulosa cell tumours. Stereology techniques were used to quantify oocyte and follicular diameters, and the percentage of different follicular types in ovaries from wild-Type mice and those underexpressing inhibin α and/or overexpressing activin C. Staining for activin βC was observed in the oocytes, granulosa cells, thecal cells and surface epithelium of mouse and human ovaries, and in the granulosa-like cells of adult granulosa cell tumours. Overexpression of activin C in mice did not alter follicular development compared with wild-Type mice, but it did modulate the development of abnormal early stage follicles in inhibin α-null mice. These results provide further evidence of a role for activin C in the ovary.
- Follicle development
- Ovarian cancer