The regulation of early follicular growth and development involves a complex interaction of autocrine, paracrine, and endocrine signals. The ability of these factors to regulate follicle growth may depend in part on the extent of vascular delivery to and perfusion of the ovary. Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) is a major regulator of vascular physiology in the ovary. VEGFA is produced in numerous ovarian compartments and likely plays a role in the regulation of all phases of follicular growth, from preantral through preovulatory. The aim of the present study was to further evaluate the role of VEGF in early follicle growth by neutralization of endogenous VEGF or VEGF receptors. Adult mice were injected systemically and prepubertal mice were injected directly under the ovarian bursa with antibodies designed to neutralize VEGF or block interaction with its receptors in the ovary. Both systemic and intrabursal injections of VEGF antibody significantly reduced the number of primordial follicles within 1–3 days after administration without affecting primary or secondary follicle numbers. Primordial follicle numbers were not different from control levels by 30 days after VEGFA antibody administration. Administration of antibodies to the kinase domain receptor (KDR), but not the FMS-like tyrosine receptor (FLT1), for VEGF also resulted in a significant decrease in primordial follicles. These data suggest that VEGF plays a vital role in the maintenance and growth of the primordial follicle pool.
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Vol. 76 • No. 2