The pattern of follicular development during the estrous cycles of aged rats was examined and compared with that of mature rats. In both, preovulatory follicles are derived from a select group of small pre-Graafian follicles which begin to develop at estrus and reach the preovulatory size by the morning of proestrus, but the rate of growth, as judged by an increase in the percentage of granulosa cells incorporating 3H-thymidine, is accelerated in the follicles of aged rats. A second mechanism, which accounts for preovulatory follicles in aged rats, involves the rescue from atresia of pre-Graafian and preovulatory follicles. The existence of this mechanism is supported by the observation that at metestrus in aged rats virtually all follicles, regardless of their state of atresia, possess a high percentage of granulosa cells incorporating 3H-thymidine, indicating that the follicles are growing rapidly. However, some of these rapidly growing follicles show signs of atresia such as pyknotic nuclei within their granulosa cell layers. Since follicles in the initial stage of atresia contain defective oocytes (Peluso et al. 1979b), their rescue and development into preovulatory follicles would result in the ovulation of defective oocytes, a fact which accounts in part of the lower fertility in these older animals.
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Peluso, J.J., Downey, C. Pattern of follicular development during the estrous cycle of aged rats. Cell Tissue Res. 225, 229–234 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00216232
- Preovulatory follicle
- Cell division