The hormonal composition of follicular fluid and its implications for ovarian cancer pathogenesis

Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2014 Jul 6;12:60. doi: 10.1186/1477-7827-12-60.


Ovulation has long been associated with an increased risk in ovarian cancer, yet the underlying molecular mechanisms remain obscure. Two aspects of ovulation have been linked to ovarian cancer pathogenesis. The first is the impact of repetitive tissue injury and repair that occurs with each ovulatory event. The second is the release of follicular fluid that accompanies the follicular rupture and its effect on the ovarian and fallopian tube epithelial cells. Hormones are an important component of follicular fluid, which transiently bathes the ovarian surface and fallopian tube epithelium during ovulation. Much work has been done exploring the role of hormones in fertility, but some, such as estrogen, have also been implicated in the pathogenesis of ovarian and other cancers. Understanding the role of hormones within follicular fluid, as well as how they are altered in disorders which increase ovarian cancer risk, will enhance our ability to assess risk and develop preventative strategies. This review provides an in depth discussion of the logistics of using and studying follicular fluid in ovarian cancer research, and discusses the fluctuations in follicular fluid hormone levels during normal physiological processes versus conditions that increase ovarian cancer risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • Female
  • Follicular Fluid / chemistry*
  • Follicular Fluid / metabolism
  • Gonadal Hormones / analysis*
  • Gonadal Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovulation*
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Gonadal Hormones