Leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is expressed in the ovary and controls follicular growth. LIF has been reported to accelerate the primordial to primary follicle transition, the growth of cultured preantral follicles, and the maturation of oocytes. Previous reports on factors that regulate follicular growth have largely employed cultured follicles. However, there are several types of follicles and somatic cells in the ovary that are likely to interact with one another to regulate follicular growth. Therefore, a novel approach is essential for understanding the function of factors that regulate follicular growth in the ovary. In this study, we evaluated the function of LIF using cultured ovarian tissue. Ovarian tissue slices were cultured in the presence or absence of recombinant LIF and neutralizing anti-LIF antibody to enable continuous monitoring of follicular growth within the context of the ovary as well as analysis of the process of follicular growth. The results revealed that LIF inhibited the growth of primary, secondary, and antral follicles. Furthermore, we verified the inhibitory function of LIF using the neutralizing antibody, which accelerated follicular growth. These results suggest that LIF is likely to coordinate follicular growth in the ovary. The culture and analysis methods employed in this study are thus effective for clarifying the tissue-level functions of factors that regulate follicular growth within the ovary.
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Vol. 93 • No. 1