The road to ovulation: The role of oestrogens

J. K. Findlay, K. Britt, J. B. Kerr, L. O'Donnell, M. E. Jones, A. E. Drummond, E. R. Simpson

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51 Citations (Scopus)


Oestrogens have been known for many years to have a direct influence on folliculogenesis. Oestradiol-17β (E2) and its analogues have both proliferative and differentiative effects on somatic cells of follicles. Nevertheless, definitive proof of an obligatory role for oestrogen in folliculogenesis and elucidation of the mechanisms subserving its different actions in follicular cells remains elusive. Several recent developments permit a re-examination of the roles and actions of E2 in the follicle. They are: (i) the discovery of a second form of the oestrogen receptor, ERβ; (ii) the advent of genetically modified mice with deletions in the ERα (αERKO) ERβ (BERKO) and the double ER deletions (αβERKO); and (iii) a mouse model of oestrogen deficiency (ArKO) by targeted disruption of the cyp 19 gene encoding the aromatase enzyme. Recent information derived from these models is reviewed to re-assess the roles and actions of oestrogens in follicular dynamics and the phenotypic differentiation of ovarian somatic cells in the ovary. The data demonstrate that oestrogen is obligatory for normal folliculogenesis and that the phenotype of the ovarian somatic cells depends on the steroid milieu. The ArKO mouse provides a model to test the roles of the respective ERs in proliferation and differentiation using specific agonists and antagonists, and to study regulation of the differentiation of ovarian and testicular somatic cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-547
Number of pages5
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

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