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J Ragoobir, DR Abayasekara, KR Bruckdorfer, and AE Michael

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) have been consistently reported to stimulate ovarian steroidogenesis, apparently by the provision of cholesterol as a steroidogenic substrate. Recent studies suggest that high-density lipoproteins (HDL) can also deliver cholesterol to support progesterone synthesis in human granulosa-lutein cells. Therefore, this study investigated the contributions of (i) cholesterol delivery, (ii) cyclic AMP and (iii) protein kinase C (PKC) in the steroidogenic responses of human granulosa-lutein cells to HDL and LDL. Over a 24-h treatment incubation, HDL stimulated a larger increase in progesterone output than did LDL at equivalent cholesterol concentrations. Moreover, at equal protein concentrations (100 microg protein/ml), HDL doubled progesterone production by cells co-treated with a maximally effective concentration of 22R-hydroxycholesterol, whereas LDL had no effect on the progesterone response to this membrane-permeable sterol. These observations indicate that the progesterone response to HDL is not solely due to the delivery of cholesterol as a steroidogenic substrate. Over 24 h, the stimulation of progesterone synthesis by HDL was additive with the response to a maximally effective concentration of dibutyryl-cAMP, but was unaffected by the down-regulation of PKC activity (by chronic pre-treatment with a tumour-promoting phorbol ester). We have concluded that HDL appears to stimulate progesterone production in human granulosa-lutein cells by a mechanism not solely reliant on cholesterol delivery.

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RC Fowkes, C Chandras, EC Chin, S Okolo, DR Abayasekara, and AE Michael

Luteinizing granulosa cells synthesize high concentrations of progesterone, prostaglandin (PG) E(2) and PGF(2 alpha). The objective of this study was to explore the relationship between prostaglandin and progesterone output from human granulosa cells as they undergo functional luteinization in culture. Granulosa cells were partially purified from ovarian follicular aspirates and cultured at a density of 10(5) cells/ml in serum-supplemented DMEM:Ham's F(12) medium for 0, 1 or 2 days. Cells were then switched to serum-free medium for 24 h before measuring hormone concentrations in this spent medium by specific radioimmunoassays. Over the first 3 days in culture, PGF(2 alpha) and PGE(2) production declined progressively by up to 82+/-3% coincident with a 55+/-11% increase in progesterone output. In subsequent experiments, cells were treated for 24 h on the second day of culture with either 0.01 to 10 microM meclofenamic acid or with 10 microM and 100 microM aminoglutethimide. Meclofenamic acid inhibited synthesis of PGF(2 alpha) and PGE(2) by up to 70+/-9% and 64+/-7% respectively without affecting progesterone output. Likewise, 100 microM aminoglutethimide inhibited progesterone production by 62+/-6% without affecting concentrations of either PGF(2 alpha) or PGE(2). We have concluded that the progressive decline in prostaglandin production and the rise in progesterone output from luteinizing human granulosa cells occur independently of each other.

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LM Thurston, E Chin, KC Jonas, IJ Bujalska, PM Stewart, DR Abayasekara, and AE Michael

In a range of tIssues, cortisol is inter-converted with cortisone by 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11betaHSD). To date, two isoforms of 11betaHSD have been cloned. Previous studies have shown that human granulosa cells express type 2 11betaHSD mRNA during the follicular phase of the ovarian cycle, switching to type 1 11betaHSD mRNA expression as luteinization occurs. However, it is not known whether protein expression, and 11betaHSD enzyme activities reflect this reported pattern of mRNA expression. Hence, the aims of the current study were to investigate the expression and activities of 11betaHSD proteins in luteinizing human granulosa-lutein (hGL) cells. Luteinizing hGL cells were cultured for up to 3 days with enzyme activities (11beta-dehydrogenase (11betaDH) and 11-ketosteroid reductase (11 KSR)) and protein expression (type 1 and type 2 11betaHSD) assessed on each day of culture. In Western blots, an immunopurified type 1 11betaHSD antibody recognized a band of 38 kDa in hGL cells and in human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells stably transfected with human type 1 11betaHSD. The type 2 11betaHSD antibody recognized a band of 48 kDa in HEK cells transfected with human type 2 11betaHSD cDNA but the type 2 protein was not expressed in hGL cells throughout the 3 days of culture. While the expression of type 1 11betaHSD protein increased progressively by 2.7-fold over 3 days as hGL cells luteinized, both 11betaDH and reductase activities declined (by 52.9% and 34.2%; P<0.05) over this same period. Changes in enzyme expression and activity were unaffected by the suppression of ovarian steroid synthesis.