Research articleCharacterization of folliculogenesis and the occurrence of apoptosis in the development of the bovine fetal ovary
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AbstractThe aim of this research was to perform in situ quantification, morphometry evaluation, and apoptosis analysis of ovarian follicular wall cells in mechanically isolated follicles obtained from ovaries of bovine fetuses (Bos taurus indicus) between 3 and 9 months of age. Apoptosis was evaluated using the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling assay. The number of isolated follicles increased from 3 months onward (102.5 ± 141.1, mean ± SEM), peaked at 6 months (12855.0 ± 9030.1), and then decreased by 7 months (3208.7 ± 3249.5), consistent with atresia occurring at these stages. Follicular density was greatest at 4 months, consistent with a sudden boost in follicular activity independent of a corresponding increase in ovarian size. Antral follicles were first observed at 5 months. As fetal age increased, there was a tendency for the percentage of primordial and primary follicles to decrease, and the percentage of secondary follicles to increase. However, the high variability (P < 0.05) for all follicle populations up to 5 months of age precluded further interpretation of these results. Oocyte diameter increased from the primordial (23.6 ± 4.4 μm) to the secondary follicular stages (38.0 ± 14.9 μm). Apoptosis was observed in ovaries from all fetal ages analyzed. We concluded that preantral follicles could be isolated from bovine fetuses by 3 months of age, with apoptosis affecting ovarian follicular dynamics throughout fetal life.

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