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S. Franks

The importance of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) as a cause of anovulatory infertility and of hirsutism has been recognized for more than half a century but it has become increasingly obvious that the presence of polycystic ovaries has wider implications within and beyond the field of reproductive function. This is largely due to recent advances in ultrasound imaging of the ovaries. It is clear that polycystic ovaries are not only much more prevalent in patients with anovulation or hirsutism than would be predicted from endocrine investigation alone (Adams, Poison & Franks, 1986; Fox, Corrigan, Thomas & Hull, 1991) but also occur in over 80% of 'fertile' women who have a history of recurrent early pregnancy loss (Sagle, Bishop, Ridley et al. 1988) and in a significant proportion (22%) of the normal population (Polson, Adams, Wadsworth & Franks, 1988). The latter findings have called into question the specificity of the polycystic

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R. C. Bonney and S. Franks

ABSTRACT

Phospholipase C and 1,2-diacylglycerol lipase activities were demonstrated in human endometrium using 1-stearoyl-2-[1-14C]arachidonyl phosphatidylinositol as substrate. Phosphatidylinositol is hydrolysed by phospholipase C to inositol phosphates and to 1,2-diacylglycerol which is then further metabolized by 1,2-diacylglycerol lipase to release free arachidonic acid. In the present study the radiolabelled products formed (1,2-diacylglycerol and arachidonic acid) were measured following chloroform/methanol extraction and thin-layer chromatography. Phospholipase C activity was calcium dependent and optimal at pH 5·0–5·5 and 7·5; 1,2-diacylglycerol lipase activity was also calcium dependent, with an optimum pH of 5·5. A significant increase in 1,2-diacylglycerol production was stimulated by steroid sulphates. Pregnenolone sulphate, oestrone sulphate, testosterone sulphate and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate stimulated 4, 3·2-1·8- and 2·6-fold increases in release respectively. Oestradiol sulphate stimulated a 25% increase in diacylglycerol release which was not significantly different from the control value. Progesterone stimulated a fourfold increase but other free steroids had no effect. Arachidonic acid release was increased in the presence of oestradiol sulphate, oestrone and oestradiol but reduced by oestrone sulphate, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate, progesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone and, to a lesser extent, by pregnenolone sulphate and testosterone sulphate. 5-Androstene-3β, 17β-diol had no effect on the liberation of either product.

This study demonstrates a potential route for the liberation of arachidonic acid from phosphatidylinositol in human endometrium. The opposing effects of steroids on phospholipase C and 1,2-diacylglycerol lipase activity could be important in regulating the release of arachidonic acid by this pathway.

J. Endocr. (1988) 117, 309–314

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S. Franks, N. J. MacLusky and F. Naftolin

The effects of primary and catechol oestrogens on the uterus of the immature rat were compared. Because differences between the in-vivo and in-vitro oestrogenic actions of catechol oestrogens on the secretion of LH had been observed, their effects on a peripheral target organ, the uterus, were examined under similar conditions. In-vivo effects were assessed by measurement of uterine weight, induction of uterine cytoplasmic progestogen receptors, and by histological examination. In-vitro actions were determined by measurement of oestrogen-specific induced protein. It was found that the uterotrophic effects in vivo of 4-hydroxyoestradiol were indistinguishable from those of oestradiol whereas 2-hydroxyoestradiol was only weakly oestrogenic and 2-hydroxyoestrone had no effect. However, in vitro, 2-hydroxyoestradiol was as effective as 4-hydroxyoestradiol or oestradiol in stimulating synthesis of uterine induced protein, and 2-hydroxyoestrone, although less potent than oestradiol, had a significant effect. These results were consistent with the observed effects on the secretion of LH. The differences between in-vivo and in-vitro uterotrophic properties of catechol oestrogens can be explained on the basis of known pharmacokinetic factors.

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DH Abbott, DA Dumesic and S Franks

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common but complex endocrine disorder and is a major cause of anovulation and consequent subfertility. It is also associated with a metabolic disturbance, characterized by hyperinsulinaemia and insulin resistance that carries an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in later life. Despite its prevalence little is known about its aetiology, but there is increasing evidence for an important genetic involvement. On the basis of experimental observations in the prenatally androgenized sheep and rhesus monkey, and supported by data from human studies, we propose that the clinical and biochemical features of PCOS can arise as a consequence of genetically determined hypersecretion of androgens by the ovary during, or very likely long before, puberty. The resulting hyperandrogenism results in 'programming' of the hypothalamic-pituitary unit to favour excess LH secretion, and encourages preferential abdominal adiposity that predisposes to insulin resistance. The severity of hyperinsulinaemia and insulin resistance (which has a profound influence on the phenotype of PCOS) is further influenced by both genetic factors (such as polymorphism in the insulin gene regulatory region) and environmental factors, notably obesity. This hypothesis therefore suggests a unifying, 'linear' model to explain the aetiology of the heterogeneous phenotype.

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S. FRANKS, N. J. MacLUSKY, S. J. NAISH and F. NAFTOLIN

The pharmacological effect of 2-hydroxyoestradiol (2-OHE2) and 4-OHE2 on concentrations of LH in the chronically castrated rat have been compared with that of oestradiol in order to determine whether the in-vivo activity is altered by insertion of a hydroxyl group at position 2 or 4 of the aromatic A ring; these derivatives are naturally occurring oestrogen metabolites. Four groups of six adult male rats were used 4 weeks after bilateral orchidectomy. The right jugular vein was exposed under ether anaesthesia and a basal blood sample taken (10.00 h) immediately before an intravenous injection of vehicle alone (0·1 ml ethanol with 0·01 % ascorbic acid), oestradiol, 2-OHE2 or 4-OHE2 (10 μg of each in 0·1 ml vehicle). Blood was taken from each animal at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 24 h after treatment and serum assayed for LH. Baseline LH levels were similar in the four groups. At 2 h there was no change in 2-OHE2-treated rats but there was a significant decrease of serum levels of LH in rats treated with oestradiol and 4-OHE2 compared with vehicle-treated controls. The decrease in LH was quantitatively similar in oestradiol- and 4-OHE2-treated groups and was sustained at 4, 6 and 8 h, returning to control values at 24 h. In subsequent experiments the effects of lower doses of these two steroids were compared and the potency of 4-OHE2 was estimated to be about 25% that of oestradiol. In a further experiment, 2-OHE2 (100 μg) had no effect when given alone, but when injected i.v. immediately before treatment with 1 μg oestradiol, it was able to inhibit the suppression of LH by oestradiol. In conclusion, 4-OHE2 had a potent effect in lowering plasma LH levels whereas 2-OHE2, even at a high dose (100 μg), did not suppress LH but it was able to inhibit the effect of oestradiol. These differences in biological activity may reflect more rapid metabolism of 2-OHE2 or differences in binding properties of these catechol oestrogens to the oestrogen receptor.

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R. C. Bonney, S. T. Qizilbash and S. Franks

ABSTRACT

The inhibition of endometrial phospholipase A2 activity by the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents mefenamic acid and indomethacin was studied over the concentration range 1 mmol/l–0·1 μmol/l. Both phospholipase A2 type 1 (a calcium-dependent enzyme) and phospholipase A2 type 2 (a calciumindependent enzyme) were inhibited by mefenamic acid, but the magnitude of the inhibition was dependent on calcium concentration. Phospholipase A2 type 1 was inhibited 50% by 10 μmol mefenamic acid/1 in the presence of 1·25–5 mmol calcium/l, but a concentration of 2·2 mmol mefenamic acid/l was required for 50% inhibition in the absence of calcium. On the other hand, phospholipase A2 type 2 was inhibited 50% by 22 μmol mefenamic acid/1 in the absence of calcium and by 100 μmol mefenamic acid/l in the presence of calcium (2·5 mmol/l). Although indomethacin was a less effective inhibitor of phospholipase A2 activity, a similar relationship with calcium was demonstrated. However, indomethacin also had a stimulatory effect on phospholipase A2 type 1 activity in the absence of calcium. Our findings suggest that the two endometrial enzymes may be inhibited by different mechanisms and that the dependence of the enzyme on calcium for activation may be a contributing factor.

J. Endocr. (1988) 119, 141–145

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S. FRANKS, G. R. MERRIAM, CYNTHIA G. GOODYER and F. NAFTOLIN

We have examined the effects of the catechol oestrogens 2-hydroxyoestradiol (2-OHE2), 4-hydroxyoestradiol (4-OHE2) and 2-hydroxyoestrone (2-OHE1) and their corresponding primary oestrogens on secretion of LH and FSH by enzymatically dispersed rat anterior pituitary cells in monolayer culture.

Basal LH levels in the medium were significantly higher than in control wells when cells were exposed to 10−8m-oestradiol-17β for 40 h: oestrone and all three catechol oestrogens (in the same doses) also stimulated basal LH concentrations to levels quantitatively similar to those seen after oestradiol treatment. The same effects were observed when steroids were given at 10−9 mol/l. Oestradiol, 2-OHE2, and 4-OHE2 but not 2-OHE1 increased pituitary responsiveness to LH releasing hormone (LH-RH) (given in a range of doses from 10−11 to 10−6 mol/l). The responses of cells treated with 2-OHE2 and 4-OHE2 were similar, though less than the response seen after treatment with oestradiol. This contrasts with the very different oestrogenic effects of 2- and 4-OHE2 previously observed in vivo. Neither oestradiol nor the catechol oestrogens had any effect on basal or LH-RH-stimulated FSH release.

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SC Hughes, HD Mason, S Franks and JM Holly

The presence of IGFs and their associated binding proteins (IGFBPs) in human follicular fluid is well documented. Furthermore, most of the constituents of the IGF system in follicular fluid have been found to vary, either in total amount or by proteolytic cleavage, depending on the health status of the follicle. In this study we have examined the acid-labile subunit (ALS) and found that levels in follicular fluid (mean 146 nmol/l) were almost 50% of those in the circulation. This amount of ALS was considerably greater than that found in other extracirculatory fluids (20.9 for synovial fluid and 31.4 nmol/l for skin blister fluid). As in the circulation, ALS levels were in molar excess and did not vary between atretic and dominant follicles. Although the source of ALS is probably from blood (conditioned medium from ovarian cell cultures had no measurable ALS) it would appear that this glycoprotein is not merely diffusing from the circulation as the capillary endothelium becomes more permeable in dominant follicles and this is not reflected in the level of ALS. Analysis of the distribution of IGF-I, IGF-II and IGFBP-3 in fluid from healthy and atretic follicles revealed that the majority of these growth factors (> 80% of total IGF-II) were in the 150KDa complex, indicating that the ALS present was functional, in that it formed the ternary complex with a molecule of IGFBP-3 and IGF. No free IGF-II was found in any of the follicular fluids analysed nor was there any increase in the amount of unsaturated IGFBP-3 in atretic follicles. In summary, we have shown that the majority of IGF measured in follicular fluid, whether from healthy or atretic follicles, is bound in the ternary complex.

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M. P. Schrey, H. J. Clark and S. Franks

ABSTRACT

A role for the regulation of cellular Ca2+ homeostasis in the dopaminergic control of prolactin secretion was investigated in rat anterior pituitary glands. Withdrawal of dopamine stimulated the uptake of 45Ca2+ into hemipituitary tissue by 48% after 3 min. Radioisotope desaturation from tissue prelabelled with 45Ca2+ was significantly retarded in the presence of dopamine. Withdrawal of dopamine rapidly stimulated 45Ca2+ efflux from prelabelled tissue by 79% and was accompanied by a three- to fourfold rise in prolactin secretion. The 45Ca2+ efflux response to dopamine withdrawal was reduced in tissue prelabelled in the presence of dopamine. Agonist displacement with metoclopramide mimicked the effect of dopamine withdrawal on 45Ca2+ efflux and prolactin secretion.

These observations demonstrate that the stimulation of prolactin release by dopamine withdrawal is accompanied by a redistribution of cellular Ca2+ and support the hypothesis that dopamine inhibits secretion by decreasing Ca2+ influx in the mammotroph cell.

J. Endocr. (1986) 108, 423–429

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S. FRANKS, P. BALL, F. NAFTOLIN and K. B. RUF

The 'positive feedback' effect of exogenous oestradiol-17β in advancing ovulation induced by pregnant mare serum gonadotrophin (PMSG) has been used in the present study as a model in which to test the possible oestrogenic or antioestrogenic effects of the catechol oestrogens, 2-hydroxyoestradiol (2-OHE2) and 4-OHE2. Sprague–Dawley rats of 26 days of age were injected with 20 i.u. PMSG together with either vehicle alone or test steroids. The animals were killed 72 h later and the Fallopian tubes were examined for the presence of ova. Advancement of induced ovulation by treatment with oestradiol was confirmed; 2-OHE2, in doses of up to 100 pg, influenced neither the time of ovulation nor the number of ova present but 4-OHE2 was equipotent with oestradiol in doses varying from 0·5 pg (the minimum effective dose for both steroids) to 10 μg. The possible antioestrogenic effect of 2-OHE2 was tested by giving a 100 pg dose either at the same time or 2 h before PMSG plus 2 pg oestradiol or 4-OHE2. The effects of oestradiol and 4-OHE2 were not altered by this treatment. These data show that, in this model of'positive feedback', 2-OHE2 has neither an oestrogenic nor an antioestrogenic action but that 4-OHE2 has a potent oestrogenic action, thus raising the question of a physiological role for 4-OHE2 in the regulation of ovulation.