The extracellular matrix (ECM) promotes and/or inhibits many cellular processes, including but not limited to proliferation, differentiation, and survival, which must occur for follicle growth and oocyte maturation. The ECM regulation of cellular processes in ovarian cells is being investigated in many animal models, including avian, rat, bovine, porcine, rabbit, sheep, human, and mouse. Granulosa cells are more frequently employed; however, the culture of intact follicles and ovaries has been developed and enables ECM functions in folliculogenesis to be studied. ECM components that have been examined are used individually (collagen, laminin, fibronectin) or collectively (Matrigel, isolated basal lamina, and ECM produced by cell lines) in both two- and three-dimensional model systems. In granulosa cell cultures, ECM affects morphology, aggregation and communication, survival, proliferation, and steroidogenesis; whereas follicle and ovary cultures demonstrate a regulation of folliculogenesis. This article describes the ECM functionality on ovarian cells throughout development, and highlights the potential of developing technologies to identify structure-function relationships in follicle maturation.
Courtney B. Berkholtz, Lonnie D. Shea, and Teresa K. Woodruff; Semin Reproducion Med Vol 24 No 4 262-9 Sep 2006