Ovulation in the absence of the ovarian surface epithelium in the primate

Jay W. Wright, Tanja Pejovic, Maralee Lawson, Leigh Jurevic, Theodore Hobbs, Richard L. Stouffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) has a prominent role in ovarian cancer in women, but no studies have been conducted to evaluate its role in normal ovarian function. Data from other species suggest the OSE is needed for ovulation. We have tested whether the OSE is needed for follicle rupture, a necessary step in ovulation, using the nonhuman primate, rhesus macaque. The OSE was removed in two different short-term protocols spanning a single periovulatory interval - one protocol used a cytology brush to remove the OSE only from the follicle apex, and one used mild detergent to remove the entire OSE-and in one long-term protocol spanning 6 wk (two periovulatory intervals) that removed the entire OSE with detergent. Serum levels of estrogen and progesterone (E and P) were monitored, and sectioned ovaries were examined for evidence of successful OSE removal and follicle rupture. In the short-term protocols, removal of the OSE over the follicle apex did not prevent follicle rupture (n=4 ovaries), but removal of the entire OSE using detergent did in four of six cases. In the long-term protocol, when ovaries were collected after the second periovulatory interval, all the ovaries (n=5) showed evidence of follicle rupture. In all the protocols, E and P production appeared unaffected. Detergent penetrated up to 40 μm into the ovary. This may have transiently disrupted the stroma and caused follicle rupture failure. We conclude that the primate OSE is not essential for ovulation and perhaps can be removed without lasting consequence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-605
Number of pages7
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Ovary
  • Ovulation
  • Primate
  • Surface epithelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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