Dynamics of the primate ovarian surface epithelium during the ovulatory menstrual cycle

Jay W. Wright, Leigh Jurevic, Richard L. Stouffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) risk correlates strongly with the number of ovulations that a woman experiences. The primary source of EOC in women is the ovarian surface epithelium (OSE). Mechanistic studies on the etiology of OSE transformation to EOC cannot be realistically performed in women. Selecting a suitable animal model to investigate the normal OSE in the context of ovulation should be guided by the models reproductive similarities to women in natural features that are thought to contribute to EOC risk. Methods We selected the non-human primate, rhesus macaque, as a surrogate to study the normal OSE during the natural menstrual cycle. We investigated OSE morphology and marker expression, plus cell proliferation and death in relation to menstrual cycle stage and ovulation. Results OSE cells displayed a morphological range from squamous to columnar. Cycle-independent parameters and cycle-dependent changes were observed for OSE histology, steroid receptor expression, cell death, DNA repair and cell adhesion. Contrary to findings in non-primates, primate OSE cells were not manifestly cleared from the site of ovulation, nor were proliferation rates affected by ovulation or stage of the menstrual cycle. DNA repair proteins were more highly expressed in OSE than in other ovarian cells. CONCLUSIONS This study identifies significant differences between primate and non-primate OSE. In contrast to established views, ovulation-induced death and proliferation are not indicated as prominent contributors to EOC risk, but disruption of OSE cadherin-mediated adhesion may be, as could the loss of ovary-mediated chronic suppression of proliferation and elevation of DNA repair potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1408-1421
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • cadherin
  • epithelial ovarian cancer
  • menstrual cycle
  • non-human primate
  • ovarian surface epithelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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