Growth and development of the corpus luteum

J Reprod Fertil Suppl. 1999:54:181-91.


The mammalian corpus luteum, which plays a central role in the reproductive process because of its production of hormones such as progesterone, is an exceptionally dynamic organ. Growth and development of the corpus luteum are extremely rapid, and even when the corpus luteum is functionally mature cellular turnover remains high. Associated with this high rate of cell turnover, the mature corpus luteum receives the greatest blood supply per unit tissue of any organ, and also exhibits a relatively high metabolic rate. Central to the growth and development of the corpus luteum, therefore, is luteal vascular growth, which appears to be regulated primarily by the angiogenic growth factors, basic fibroblast growth factor and vascular endothelial growth factor. In addition, the corpus luteum is a complex tissue composed of parenchymal (small and large steroidogenic) and nonparenchymal (for example fibroblasts, vascular smooth muscle, pericytes and endothelial) cells. Recent studies evaluating the expression, location and regulation of gap junctions in the corpus luteum indicate an important role of gap junctional intercellular communication in the coordination of function among these diverse cell types during luteal growth and development. These studies will lead to an improved understanding not only of luteal function but also of tissue growth and development in general.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Division
  • Connexins / physiology
  • Corpus Luteum / blood supply
  • Corpus Luteum / cytology
  • Corpus Luteum / physiology*
  • Corpus Luteum Maintenance
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / physiology
  • Female
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / physiology
  • Gap Junctions / physiology
  • Growth Substances / physiology*
  • Lymphokines / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Ruminants / physiology*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


  • Connexins
  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Growth Substances
  • Lymphokines
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2