Oxytocin receptors in the primate ovary: Molecular identity and link to apoptosis in human granulosa cells

S. Saller, L. Kunz, G. A. Dissen, R. Stouffer, S. R. Ojeda, D. Berg, U. Berg, A. Mayerhofer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background Oxytocin (OT) is produced by granulosa cells (GCs) of pre-ovulatory ovarian follicles and the corpus luteum (CL) in some mammalian species. Actions of OT in the ovary have been linked to luteinization, steroidogenesis and luteolysis. Human IVF-derived (h)GCs possess a functional OT receptor (OTR), linked to elevation of intracellular Ca2+, but molecular identity of the receptor for OT in human granulosa cells (hGCs) and down-stream consequences are not known.Method S AND Result SRT-PCR, sequencing and immunocytochemistry identified the genuine OTR in hGCs. OT (10 nM-10 μM) induced elevations of intracellular Ca2+ levels (Fluo-4 measurements), which were blocked by tocinoic acid (TA; 50 μM, a selective OTR-antagonist). Down-stream effects of OTR-activation include a concentration dependent decrease in cell viability/metabolism, manifested by reduced ATP-levels, increased caspase3/7-activity (P < 0.05) and electron microscopical signs of cellular regression. TA blocked all of these changes. Immunoreactive OTR was found in the CL and GCs of large and, surprisingly, also small pre-antral follicles of the human ovary. Immunoreactive OTR in the rhesus monkey ovary was detected in primordial and growing primary follicles in the infantile ovary and in follicles at all stages of development in the adult ovary, as well as the CL: these Result s were corroborated by RT-PCR analysis of GCs excised by laser capture microdissection.Conclusion SOur study identifies genuine OTRs in human and rhesus monkey GCs. Activation by high levels of OT leads to cellular regression in hGCs. As GCs of small follicles also express OTRs, OT may have as yet unkown functions in follicular development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)969-976
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Apoptosis
  • Calcium
  • Follicle
  • Oxytocin
  • Vasopressin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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