Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) has a critical role in regression of the mullerian duct system during development in male mammalian and avian species and in regression of the right oviduct in female avian species. AMH in adult female birds has not been investigated. Chicken-specific cDNA primers were used to isolate Amh by RT-PCR. This probe was used in Northern blot analysis to identify a 2.8-kb band with expression in total ovarian RNA and in granulosa cell RNA. Quantitative real-time PCR was used to assess Amh expression in follicles of different maturity (1, 3, 5, and 6–12 mm and the largest F1 follicle; n = 4–6 of each size). There was an increased amount of Amh mRNA in the granulosa layer of the smaller follicles and a lower amount in the granulosa layer of the larger follicles (P < 0.01). There was no difference in granulosa Amh expression between the germinal disc and non-germinal disc region of 6- to 12-mm follicles, although expression differed with follicle size (P < 0.01). To examine hormone regulation of Amh, granulosa cells (from 6- to 8-mm follicles) were cultured with various concentrations of estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4), and Amh mRNA was assessed. Neither E2 nor P4 influenced Amh mRNA accumulation. Granulosa cells were also cultured in the presence of oocyte-conditioned medium (OCM), which decreased Amh mRNA expression in a dose-related manner (P < 0.05); FSH receptor expression was not affected. Heat treatment of OCM abolished the effect, but growth differentiation factor 9 antiserum did not block the suppression. Immunohistochemistry confirmed that the granulosa layer was the predominant source of AMH in the small follicles of the hen and indicated that AMH was present early in follicle development, with expression in very small follicles (approximately 150 μm).
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Vol. 78 • No. 1