Follicle deviation is proposed to be the eminent event in follicle selection in monovular species. At deviation, the largest follicle establishes dominance apparently before the second-largest follicle can reach a similar diameter. In cattle, based on diameters of the two follicles at the beginning of deviation, the mechanism becomes established in <8 h. An FSH:follicle-coupling hypothesis has been supported as the essence of follicle selection. According to the hypothesis, the growing follicles cause the FSH decline from the peak of the wave-stimulating FSH surge until deviation, even though the follicles continue to require FSH (two-way functional coupling involving multiple follicles). During multiple-follicle coupling, inhibin is the primary FSH suppressant. Near the beginning of deviation, the largest follicle secretes increased estradiol, and apparently both estradiol and inhibin contribute to the continuing FSH decline; only the more-developed largest follicle is able to utilize the low FSH concentrations (single-follicle coupling). Deviation is encompassed by a transient elevation in LH in heifers and by a component, often distinct, of the long ovulatory LH surge in mares. In heifers, receptors for LH appear in the granulosa cells of the future dominant follicle about 8 h before the beginning of deviation. The LH stimulates the production of estradiol and insulin-like growth factor-1. These intrafollicular factors and perhaps others account for the responsiveness of the largest follicle to the low concentrations of FSH. The smaller follicles have not reached a similar developmental stage and because of their continued and close dependency on FSH become susceptible to the low concentrations. Thereby, follicle selection is established.
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