Role of neurotrophic factors in early ovarian development

Gregory A. Dissen, Cecilia Garcia-Rudaz, Sergio Ojeda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Much is known about the endocrine hormonal mechanisms controlling ovarian development. More recently, attention has focused on identifying regulatory pathways that, operating within the ovarian microenvironment, contribute to the acquisition of ovarian reproductive competence. Within this framework, the concept has developed that neuro-trophins (NTs) and their Trk tyrosine kinase receptors, long thought to be exclusively required for the development of the nervous system, are also involved in the control of ovarian maturation. The ovary of several species, including rodents, sheep, cows, nonhu- man primates, and humans, produce NTs and express both the high-affinity receptors and the common p75 NTR receptor required for signaling. Studies in humans and rodents have shown that this expression is initiated during fetal life, before the formation of primordial follicles. Gene targeting approaches have identified TrkB, the high-affinity receptor for neurotrophin-4/5 and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, as a signaling module required for follicular assembly, early follicular growth, and oocyte survival. A similar approach has shown that nerve growth factor contributes independently to the growth of primordial follicles into gonadotropin-responsive structures. Altogether, these observations indicate that NTs are important contributors to the gonadotropin-independent process underlying the formation and initiation of ovarian follicular growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-31
Number of pages8
JournalSeminars in Reproductive Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Early follicle growth
  • Neurotrophins
  • Oocyte survival
  • Ovarian folliculogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Physiology (medical)


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