The ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) is a monolayer of cells that surround the ovary and accommodate repeated tear and repair in response to ovulation. OSE cells are thought to be the progenitors of 90% of ovarian cancers. Currently, the total amount of proliferation of the OSE has not been reported in response to one ovulatory event. In this study, proliferation of the OSE was quantified in response to superovulation induced by ip injection of pregnant mare serum gonadotropin (PMSG) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in immature 27-d-old CD1 mice using bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU). BrdU incorporation into the OSE cells was measured from the time of hCG injection for a total cumulative label of 12 h. BrdU incorporation was also measured from the time of PMSG injection for a total label of 60 h to correlate proliferation with specific gonadotropin stimulation. The OSE proliferation was significantly higher in superovulated animals compared with control mice at all time points. Proliferation was also analyzed in discrete anatomical sections and indicated that OSE covering antral follicles and corpora lutea proliferated more rapidly than OSE distal to follicular growth. Finally, apoptosis was assessed in response to ovulation, and virtually no cell death within the OSE was detected. These data demonstrate that the OSE, especially near antral follicles and corpora lutea, proliferates significantly in response to the gonadotropins PMSG and hCG. Therefore, ovarian surface cell division in response to ovulation could contribute to ovarian cancer by proliferation-induced DNA mutations and transformed cell progression.
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