There is accumulating evidence that local renin-angiotensin systems (RASs) influence cell growth and organ function in a variety of tissues including the ovary. The first aim of this study was to characterise the cellular location of RAS components in the rat ovary. This was facilitated by the use of the hypertensive transgenic (mRen-2)27 rat which overexpresses renin and angiotensin in extra-renal tissues. Comparisons were made with normal Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats. The second aim was to determine if the upregulated RAS of the transgenic (mRen-2)27 rat and infusion of angiotensin II (ANG II) in SD rats influences follicle number and litter size. Gene expression, immunohistochemical and autoradiographic techniques were used to identify a discrete RAS including ANG II receptors in the ovarian stroma, follicles (particularly atretic) and to a lesser extent corpora lutea. The RAS at these sites was most abundant in homozygous (HMZ) followed by heterozygous (HTZ) (mRen-2)27 rats and then SD rats. Large antral and preovulatory follicles and litter size were reduced in (mRen-2)27 rats. In HMZ (mRen-2)27 rats and SD rats infused with ANG II, angiotensin 1a (AT(1a)) receptor mRNA in the ovarian stroma was lower than control SD rats and was associated with a reduction in large antral and preovulatory follicles. These findings indicate that upregulation of the ovarian RAS in the rat influences follicular development and, potentially, reproductive capacity.
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