Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) plays a key role during ovarian follicular development, with local actions associated with a dynamic secretion profile by growing follicles. While results for AMH effects on antral follicle growth and function are consistent among studies in various species, any effects on preantral follicle development remain controversial. Therefore, experiments were conducted to investigate the direct actions and role of AMH during follicle development at the preantral stage. Macaque-specific short-hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) targeting AMH mRNA were incorporated into adenoviral vectors to decrease AMH gene expression in rhesus macaque follicles. Secondary follicles were isolated from adult macaque ovaries and cultured individually in the ultra-low-attachment dish containing defined medium supplemented with follicle-stimulating hormone and insulin for 5 weeks. Follicles were randomly assigned to treatment groups: (a) control, (b) nontargeting control shRNA-vector, (c) AMH shRNA-vector, (d) AMH shRNA-vector + recombinant human AMH, and (e) recombinant human AMH. Follicle survival and growth were assessed. Culture media were analyzed for steroid hormone and paracrine factor concentrations. For in vivo study, the nontargeting control shRNA-vector and AMH shRNA-vector were injected into macaque ovaries. Ovaries were collected 9 days postinjection for morphology and immunohistochemistry assessment. Decreased AMH expression reduced preantral follicle survival and growth in nonhuman primates. Supplemental AMH treatment in the culture media promoted preantral follicle growth to the small antral stage in vitro with increased steroid hormone and paracrine factor production, as well as oocyte maturation. These data demonstrate that AMH is a critical follicular paracrine/autocrine factor positively impacting preantral follicle survival and growth in primates.
Anti-Müllerian hormone is a survival factor for preantral follicles in nonhuman primates, and promotes preantral follicle growth to the small antral stage with increased steroid hormone and paracrine factor production, as well as oocyte maturation.