Concanavalin-A induces granulosa cell death and inhibits fsh-mediated follicular growth and ovarian maturation in female rats

Ethel V. Velasquez, Mariana Ríos, María Elena Ortiz, Carlos Lizama, Elizabeth Nuñez, Dalhia Abramovich, Felipe Orge, Barbara Oliva, Renán Orellana, Manuel Villalon, Ricardo D. Moreno, Marta Tesone, Anne Rokka, Garry Corthals, Horacio B. Croxatto, Fernanda Parborell, Gareth I. Owen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Reproductive success stems from a finely regulated balance between follicular maturation and atresia, in which the role of carbohydrate structure is poorly understood. Here, we describe for the first time a fraction of purified recombinant human FSH that is capable of bringing about the cell death of granulosa cells and preventing follicular maturation in a rat model. Further analysis by mass spectrometry revealed the presence of the lectin Concanavalin-A (Con-A) within this fraction of recombinant FSH. Using both the fractionated FSH and Con-A, the observed cell death was predominantly located to the granulosa cells. Ex vivo culture of rat follicles demonstrated that follicle degeneration occurred and resulted in the release of a denuded and deteriorated oocyte. Moreover, in vivo experiments confirmed an increase in atresia and a corresponding reduction confined to follicle in early antral stage. As a mechanism of action, Con-A reduces ovarian proliferation, Von Willebrand staining, and angiogenesis. Based on the observation that Con-A may induce granulosa cell death followed by follicle death, our results further demonstrate that follicular carbohydrate moiety is changing under the influence of FSH, which may allow a carbohydrate- binding lectin to increase granulosa cell death. The physiological consequences of circulating lectin-like molecules remain to be determined. However, our results suggest a potential exploitation of carbohydrate binding in fertility and ovarian cancer treatment. This work may shed light on a key role of carbohydrates in the still obscure physiological process of follicular selection and atresia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1885-1896
Number of pages12
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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