Cellular Localization of Ovarian Proopiomelanocortin Messenger RNA during Follicular and Luteal Development in the Rat

Sheryl L. Sanders, Michael H. Melner, Thomas E. Curry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Opioid peptides are expressed in the reproductive system and have been reported to regulate reproductive function. The present study used in situ hybridization to selectively localize ovarian cells containing high levels of proopiomelanocortin (POMC) mRNA, an opioid precursor, during different stages of ovarian development. Prepubertal rats were primed with PMSG to stimulate follicular development, followed by hCG to induce ovulation. Treatment groups consisted of control (no treatment), PMSG (2 days post-PMSG), 1 day corpus luteum (CL; 1 day post-hCG), and 8 day CL (8 days post-hCG). POMC mRNA-containing cells were present in antral follicles, CL, and the interstitial compartment. With gonadotropin treatment, the percentage of follicles containing heavily labeled cells increased in the PMSG and 1 day CL groups. The number of POMC mRNA-containing cells per follicle also increased in the 1 day CL group. In the CL, no difference was observed in the percentage of CL exhibiting labeled cells between the 1 day CL and 8 day CL groups; however, more labeled luteal cells per CL were present in the 1 day CL group. A marked increase in POMC mRNA-containing cells was observed in the interstitial compartment of the 1 day CL group. These results indicate that the number of POMC mRNA-containing cells increases with follicular development and CL formation; however, the ovarian distribution suggests that the labeled cells could be nonendocrine cells, possibly white blood cells. The in situ hybridization findings are indicative of low total concentrations of ovarian POMC mRNA, suggesting mainly an autocrine or paracrine role for POMC or POMC-derived peptides. These opioid peptides may play a role in processes occurring during follicular development and corpus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1311-1319
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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