2007 Volume 53 Issue 3 Pages 481-490
More than 99% of follicles in mammalian ovaries undergo a degenerative process known as atresia, and only a few follicles actually ovulate during follicular growth and development. Follicular selection mostly depends on granulosa cell apoptosis, but the molecular mechanism behind the regulation of this selective atresia is still largely unknown. In the present study, to examine whether or not interleukin-6 (IL-6), a multifunctional cytokine, is involved in apoptosis during atresia in pig ovaries, the expression of IL-6 mRNA in granulosa cells was quantified by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The level of mRNA decreased during atresia. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) showed that the level of IL-6 protein in follicular fluid also decreased during atresia. Moreover, recombinant human IL-6 upregulated the expression of an intracellular apoptosis inhibitor, cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein long form (cFLIPL), in cultured cells derived from human granulosa cells. It is possible that IL-6 is produced in the granulosa cells of healthy follicles, that it increases the cFLIPL level, and cFLIPL then prevents apoptotic cell death.