The Role of Reproduction (Part 5


Control of the Ovary
 The control systems in male and female are fundamentally similar, utilizing the same hypothalamic and pituitary hormones. Things work differently for two reasons: o The ovary produces few, large gametes o The principal ovarian hormones are not androgens, but estradiol and progesterone

The Ovarian Cycle
 The ovary produces relatively few, large gametes (ova, or eggs). Reproductive success depends on everything begin prepared so that these few ova have the best chance of survival and development to an embryo. For this reason, females cycle – each cycle including a sequence of events designed to stimulate coordinated development of both the eggs and the reproductive tract.

The First Step: Oogenesis
    In the female fetus, the primordial germ cells migrate from the yolk sac to the developing ovaries A single layer of follicular cells surrounds each primordial germ cell The germ cell is called the “oogonium” Starts meiosis

Meiosis and the Primary Follicle

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Two cell divisions where the chromosome number is halved The oogonium stops meiosis at the first prophase  “primary oocyte” Thousands of these primary follicles are present at birth Each primary oocyte results in one mature ovum and three rudimentary cells (polar bodies)

Sexual Maturity
 In mammals, it is essential that the development of the eggs and the development of the reproductive tract be precisely synchronized to make sure that if fertilization occurs, pregnancy can occur successfully. This means that the brain, pituitary, and reproductive tract must respond in an appropriately timed fashion to the hormonal signals from the ovary Reproduction is initiated in females in exactly the same way as males – hypothalamic GnRH release is turned on. The resultant rise in FSH stimulates a group of follicles to start developing.

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GnRH-LH/FSH-gonadal axis

Inhibitory Feedback
  As the follicles start to develop, they produce estradiol and inhibin o Both act back to inhibit FSH secretion This produces a limiting situation in the ovary o Only the healthiest follicles survive the resultant “FSH starvation” o In large mammals, this is used to limit ovarian development to the single healthiest follicle for each cycle

 A sustained rise in estradiol causes the brain to override the inhibition of the pituitary, causing the entire pituitary store of LH to be suddenly released This surge of LH causes ovulation

Ovulation at the Cellular Level
 The primary oocyte undergoes the first meiotic division to produce the secondary oocyte (and first polar body) o In the mare this happens just after ovulation

After Ovulation
     Formation of a corpus luteum from the ovulated follicle o Now starts to secrete progesterone as well as estradiol The cells in the corpus luteum have a short life if pregnancy does not occur (~7 days in a woman) After ovulation, progesterone from the CL induces uterine differentiation, preparing for pregnancy In the absence of more LH, the luteinized cells in the corpus luteum die and a new cycle begins The only way that the corpus luteum can be rescued is if pregnancy happens – and the new embryo secretes hormones that will stop the cells of the corpus luteum from dying

 In all mammals, the loss of both estradiol and progesterone at the end of the cycle results in regression of the uterus. In primates, this is associated with shedding of the lining of the uterus (menstruation) If pregnancy happens, menstruation is prevented because the corpus luteum is rescued from death by the embryo – so it continues to secrete estradiol and progesterone, maintaining the uterus

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