Neurotensin: A novel mediator of ovulation?

Genevieve E. Campbell, Hannah R. Bender, Grace A. Parker, Thomas E. Curry, Diane M. Duffy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The midcycle luteinizing hormone (LH) surge initiates a cascade of events within the ovarian follicle which culminates in ovulation. Only mural granulosa cells and theca cells express large numbers of LH receptors, and LH-stimulated paracrine mediators communicate the ovulatory signal within the follicle. Recent reports identified the neuropeptide neurotensin (NTS) as a product of granulosa cells. Here, we demonstrate that granulosa cells were the primary site of NTS expression in macaque ovulatory follicles. Granulosa cell NTS mRNA and protein increased after human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) administration, which substitutes for the LH surge. To identify ovulatory actions of NTS, a NTS-neutralizing antibody was injected into preovulatory macaque follicles. hCG administration immediately followed, and ovaries were removed 48 hours later to evaluate ovulatory events. Follicles injected with control IgG ovulated normally. In contrast, 75% of NTS antibody-injected follicles failed to ovulate, containing oocytes trapped within unruptured, hemorrhagic follicles. Serum progesterone was unchanged. Of the three NTS receptors, SORT1 was highly expressed in follicular granulosa, theca, and endothelial cells; NTSR1 and NTSR2 were expressed at lower levels. Excessive blood cells in NTS antibody-injected follicles indicated vascular anomalies, so the response of monkey ovarian endothelial cells to NTS was evaluated in vitro. NTS stimulated endothelial cell migration and capillary sprout formation, consistent with a role for NTS in vascular remodeling associated with ovulation. In summary, we identified NTS as a possible paracrine mediator of ovulation. Further investigation of the NTS synthesis/response pathway may lead to improved treatments for infertility and novel targets for contraception.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21481
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology


  • angiogenesis
  • fertility
  • ovary
  • primate
  • sortilin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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