We have used the unilaterally ovariectomized (ULO) rat as an experimental model to assess transient relationships between follicular recruitment and inhibin mRNA levels in the ovary. Animals were divided into three experimental groups (ULO, sham-operated, and intact) and killed 0, 9, or 24 h postsurgery. Inhibin α- and βA mRNA were measured within individual ovarian follicles by in situ hybridization. Serum FSH concentrations in ULO animals increased significantly at 9 h and returned to presurgery levels by 24 h. There was no effect of surgery on serum LH concentrations. In the ULO animals, compensatory follicular recruitment was observed in the remaining ovary at 24 h as a significant increase in the number of follicles with mean diameter greater than 350 Î¼m. Two distinct populations of healthy maturing follicles, based on diameter and hybridization intensity, were observed in ovaries from 24 h post- ULO rats. The first class, NRF-1 (newly recruited follicle-1), were those recruited 48 h previously by the secondary FSH surge of the preceding cycle. These large follicles (≪500 urn mean diameter) hybridized to both inhibin probes. The second class of follicles (NRF-2), which represent those newly recruited by the ULO-induced increase in serum FSH, were smaller in size than NRF-1 (350â€ 500 Î¼m mean diameter). The intensity of hybridization of both inhibin probes to NRF-1 was higher than that to NRF-2 in the majority of follicles. Each NRF-1 contained higher levels of both α- and βA-inhibin mRNA than nonrecruited follicles (150â€ 350 Î¼m diameter). These data suggest that subtle changes in serum FSH concentrations, which are sufficient to induce follicular recruitment into a size class capable of ovulating within a given cycle, play the additional role of enhancing inhibin mRNA levels in developing follicles.
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