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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 938138, 14 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1100/2012/938138
Review Article

Biology and Biotechnology of Follicle Development

1CICyTTP, CONICET, Dr. Materi y España s/n Entre Ríos, 3105 Diamante, Argentina
2Laboratory of Biotechnology of Reproduction, Department of Animal Production, National University of Santiago del Estero, 4200 Santiago del Estero, Argentina
3Instituto de Biología, Facultad de Bioquímica, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Ayacucho 491, 4000 San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina
4Institute of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Munich, Veterinaerstrasse 13, 80539 Munich, Germany
5Biotecnología Aplicadas a la Reproducción Animal en IIB-INTECH, Camino Laguna Km 6 B7130IWA Chascomús, Argentina

Received 28 October 2011; Accepted 13 December 2011

Academic Editor: Austin Cooney

Copyright © 2012 Gustavo Adolfo Palma et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Growth and development of ovarian follicles require a series of coordinated events that induce morphological and functional changes within the follicle, leading to cell differentiation and oocyte development. The preantral early antral follicle transition is the stage of follicular development during which gonadotropin dependence is obtained and the progression into growing or atresia of the follicle is made. Follicular growth during this period is tightly regulated by oocyte-granulosatheca cell interactions. A cluster of early expressed genes is required for normal folliculogenesis. Granulosa cell factors stimulate the recruitment of theca cells from cortical stromal cells. Thecal factors promote granulosa cell proliferation and suppress granulosa cell apoptosis. Cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions influence the production of growth factors in the different follicular compartments (oocyte, granulosa, and theca cells). Several autocrine and paracrine factors are involved in follicular growth and differentiation; their activity is present even at the time of ovulation, decreasing the gap junction communication, and stimulating the theca cell proliferation. In addition, the identification of the factors that promote follicular growth from the preantral stage to the small antral stage may provide important information for the identification for assisted reproduction techniques.