Viral infections may perturb ovarian functions and female fertility. Mechanisms underlying viral perturbation of ovarian functions are incompletely understood. This study found that intraperitoneal injection of polyinosinic–polycytidylic acid [poly (I:C)] in female mice inhibits estradiol synthesis and induces ovarian granulosa cell apoptosis. Poly (I:C) is a synthetic viral double-stranded RNA analog, which induces innate antiviral responses mimicking a viral infection through activation of pattern recognition receptors, including toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3), retinoic acid-inducible gene I, and melanoma differentiation-associated gene 5. Injection of poly (I:C) significantly induced granulosa cell apoptosis in antral follicles and reduced antral follicle numbers. These effects were significantly diminished in Tlr3 knockout or tumor necrosis factor-alpha (Tnfa) knockout mice. We demonstrated that poly (I:C) induced TNFA production at a relatively high level in wild-type mice compared with that in Tlr3 knockout mice. Notably, TNFA neutralizing antibody significantly reduced poly (I:C)-induced ovarian dysfunction. In vitro assays confirmed that TNFA inhibits estradiol synthesis and induces granulosa cell apoptosis. Results provide novel insights into the mechanisms by which a mimicked viral infection perturbs ovarian functions in mice.
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Vol. 93 • No. 1