2009 Volume 55 Issue 2 Pages 219-224
A simple and clear means to identify the physiological status of follicles is essential for study of follicular biology. In the present study, we verified a novel classification procedure based on analysis of the follicular population and glucose concentration in follicular fluid (FF) as an alternative method to classify bovine follicles. Paired ovaries were collected from heifers, and the number of follicles and stage of the CL were recorded. Follicles were initially divided into the following 3 groups according to diameter and the ratio of E2 and P4 (E/P): E2 active (E-A: E/P≥1), E2 inactive (E-I: E/P<1, ≥8.5 mm) and small follicles (E/P<1, <8.5 mm). E-A follicles were easily identified as E2-rich dominant follicles and were further classified according to diameter and stage of the CL as early dominant (EDF: <8.5 mm), dominant (DF: ≥8.5 mm, stages I-III) or preovulatory follicles (POF: ≥8.5 mm, stage IV). E-I follicles were classified as follows based on the status of the accompanying follicles: early atretic (EAF: without an E-A follicle), mid-atretic (MAF: with an EDF or DF) and late atretic follicles (LAF: with an EAF or POF). The follicular P4 concentrations of the MAF and LAF were significantly higher compared with that of the EAF, while follicular glucose concentration of the LAF was lower compared with those of EAF and MAF, indicating that this classification can be used to distinguish early atretic follicles from more advanced atretic follicles. Small follicles were classified as growing (GF: without E-A follicles) and suppressed small follicles (SSF: with E-A follicles). The SSF was easily identifiable by this procedure, but some GF populations likely contained SSF. To identify true GF, the ratio of E2 in the GF and accompanying EAF may be used. In conclusion, analysis of the follicular population in conjunction with biochemical indices such as steroid and glucose concentrations in FF provides a simple and accurate means of classifying bovine follicles.