Stage-specific effects of androgens and estradiol-17beta on the development of late primary and early secondary ovarian follicles of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in vitro

Biol Reprod. 2012 Sep 21;87(3):64. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.111.098772. Print 2012 Sep.


An in vitro system was used to analyze the effects of sex steroids on the development of primary (late perinucleolar stage) and early secondary, previtellogenic (early cortical alveolus stage) ovarian follicles of coho salmon cultured for up to 21 days. Late perinucleolar-stage follicles increased significantly in size after 7 days of treatment with low concentrations of 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT), a nonaromatizable androgen. An androgen receptor antagonist (flutamide) inhibited this growth-promoting effect, and the highest concentration resulted in atresia of follicles, implicating androgens as survival factors at this stage. Testosterone (T) was less effective than 11-KT in promoting growth, but blocking aromatization with exemestane resulted in a growth response similar to that of 11-KT. Estradiol-17beta (E2) had no effect on growth at this stage. After 21 days of culture, E2 was the most potent steroid in increasing the number of follicles containing cortical alveoli and the number of cortical alveoli within those follicles. At the early cortical alveolus stage, low doses of E2 promoted growth and strongly stimulated synthesis of cortical alveoli, actions that were inhibited by an estrogen receptor antagonist (tamoxifen). 11-KT displayed moderate growth-promoting effects, and 11-KT and T stimulated moderate to substantial increases in abundance of cortical alveoli. This study shows that the predominant role of androgens is the promotion of growth of late perinucleolar-stage follicles, while E2 stimulates both the growth and accumulation of cortical alveoli in early cortical alveolus-stage follicles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Aromatase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Enlargement / drug effects
  • Cell Size / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Hormone Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Oncorhynchus kisutch* / metabolism
  • Oncorhynchus kisutch* / physiology
  • Ovarian Follicle / cytology
  • Ovarian Follicle / drug effects*
  • Ovarian Follicle / physiology
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Time Factors


  • Androgens
  • Aromatase Inhibitors
  • Hormone Antagonists
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Estradiol