A new hypothesis regarding ovarian follicle development: ovarian rigidity as a regulator of selection and health

  • Teresa K. WoodruffEmail author
  • Lonnie D. Shea


The mammalian ovary consists of a large number of dormant immature follicles, each containing a single oocyte and located on the periphery of the ovary. With each reproductive cycle, a group of immature follicles is sequentially activated to resume growth, and pituitary gonadotropins and ovarian steroid and peptide hormones cooperate to ensure further growth and development. A single dominant follicle eventually emerges, ovulates, and then involutes to allow the selection of the next group of follicles. While hormones are known to control the later stages of folliculogenesis, little is known about the pathways that activate individual immature primordial follicles in the dormant follicle pool. We advance a new hypothesis: that follicle activation is dependent on the physical environment of the ovary in addition to well-established hormonal cues. This novel perspective on ovarian function may provide new avenues to study follicle dynamics and identify therapeutic targets for ovarian dysfunction.


Ovary Follicle Endocrine Alginate Biomaterials 



The authors are grateful for technical input from Dr. Jenny Hirshfield-Cytron, Dr. Frank Miller, Dr. Ariella Shikanov, and Rachel Smith. This research was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NIH grant numbers: U54HD041857) and the National Institutes of Health (Grant Numbers: UL1DE019587, PL1EB008542). Editorial assistance was provided by Stacey C. Tobin, PhD.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Reproductive ResearchNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Feinberg School of MedicineNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Chemical and Biological EngineeringNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  5. 5.Institute for Bionanotechnology in MedicineChicagoUSA
  6. 6.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Feinberg School of MedicineNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA

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