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Development of the follicular basement membrane during human gametogenesis and early folliculogenesis.

BMC developmental biology (2015-01-22)
A Marijne Heeren, Liesbeth van Iperen, Daniëlle B Klootwijk, Ana de Melo Bernardo, Matthias S Roost, Maria M Gomes Fernandes, Leonie A Louwe, Carina G Hilders, Frans M Helmerhorst, Lucette A J van der Westerlaken, Susana M Chuva de Sousa Lopes
ABSTRACT

In society, there is a clear need to improve the success rate of techniques to restore fertility. Therefore a deeper knowledge of the dynamics of the complex molecular environment that regulates human gametogenesis and (early) folliculogenesis in vivo is necessary. Here, we have studied these processes focusing on the formation of the follicular basement membrane (BM) in vivo. The distribution of the main components of the extracellular matrix (ECM) collagen IV, laminin and fibronectin by week 10 of gestation (W10) in the ovarian cortex revealed the existence of ovarian cords and of a distinct mesenchymal compartment, resembling the organization in the male gonads. By W17, the first primordial follicles were assembled individually in that (cortical) mesenchymal compartment and were already encapsulated by a BM of collagen IV and laminin, but not fibronectin. In adults, in the primary and secondary follicles, collagen IV, laminin and to a lesser extent fibronectin were prominent in the follicular BM. The ECM-molecular niche compartimentalizes the female gonads from the time of germ cell colonization until adulthood. This knowledge may contribute to improve methods to recreate the environment needed for successful folliculogenesis in vitro and that would benefit a large number of infertility patients.

MATERIALS
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