Formation of the rupture site in preovulatory hamster and mouse follicles: loss of the surface epithelium

Gamete Res. 1987 Aug;17(4):287-302. doi: 10.1002/mrd.1120170403.


Changes in the morphology of epithelial cells covering the sides and apex of ovarian follicles were examined in mice and hamsters during the final 13 hr before rupture using light and electron microscopy. At the time of the surge of luteinizing hormone, approximately 13 hr before follicle rupture, epithelial cells along the follicle sides are spherical, covered with microvilli, and remain so throughout the entire cycle. As ovulation approaches, cells at the apex become progressively flatter, increase in diameter, and undergo a reduction in the number and length of microvilli. By 2 hr before ovulation, the microvilli are present only along the boundary between adjacent cells and the cells are in different stages of degeneration. In some cells, the cytoplasm is electron dense and the nuclei are pyknotic. Other cells become electron lucent and cytoplasmic elements are leached from the cell. The apical plasma membrane is lost first over the center of the cell and later over the periphery. Epithelial cells detach from the apex individually until a large patch devoid of cells is formed. This includes the site of eventual rupture. The loss of epithelial cells from the apex of ovarian follicles of other species is compared with our results, and the processes involved in stretching, degeneration, and sloughing of the epithelial cells are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cricetinae
  • Epithelium / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Mesocricetus
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Ovarian Follicle / cytology
  • Ovarian Follicle / physiology
  • Ovarian Follicle / ultrastructure*
  • Ovulation*