The life and death of the dominant follicle
Much work has been conducted over the years to determine the major factors that control follicle growth, including the role of FSH, LH and IGF1. These factors permit the dominant follicle to grow while subordinate follicles regress. The dominant follicle enters a phase of growth, and then that growth slows as the follicle reaches maximum size. The dominant follicle remains morphologically larger for a few days in the static phase, before starting to regress with the loss of functional dominance. Few studies have addressed the factors that determine follicle fate during the static phase. In this review, we summarize the differences in gene expression between growing and non-growing (static or early regressing) dominant follicles, highlighting areas that require further study. Potential factors that may help survival of the dominant follicle include IGF1, estradiol and BMP4/BMP7, and intrafollicular factors that likely initiate regression and apoptosis include FGF18 and AMH acting through FASLG. It is also very likely that the influence of microRNAs, especially miR-21, play a role in determining the fate of the dominant follicle.
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