Morphological development and characterization of aromatase and estrogen receptors alpha and beta in fetal ovaries of cattle from days 110 to 250. Academic Article uri icon


  • To better understand the role of estradiol-17beta in fetal ovarian development, presence and localization of cytochrome P450 aromatase (P450arom) and estrogen receptors alpha (ERalpha) and beta (ERbeta) proteins were characterized in fetal ovaries of cattle using immunohistochemistry. Fetal cattle ovaries were collected from an abattoir and sorted into fetal age groups (days 110, 130, 150, 170, 190, 210, 230, 250+) based on crown-rump length. In addition to immunohistochemistry, morphological analysis of ovarian and follicular formation was made. Ovaries appeared lobular at day 110, but by the end of gestation (day 250+) ovaries were oval-shaped similar to those found in adult animals. Ovarian structures within different lobes appeared to be at different developmental stages. At day 110, oocytes and pre-granulosa cells were observed in ovigerous cords that were still open to the surface epithelium. Most ovigerous cords appeared to be closed to the surface epithelium on day 130, all closed by day 150 and were no longer present at day 210. Ovarian follicles were classified as follows: Type 1(primordial): single layer of flattened granulosa cells, Type 1a (transitory): single layer of mixed flattened and cuboidal granulosa cells, Type 2 (primary): at least one but less than two layers of cuboidal granulosa cells, Type 3 (small preantral): two to three layers of granulosa cells, Type 4 (large preantral): four to six layers of granulosa, and the theca layer is forming around the follicle, Type 5 (antral): contain greater than six layers of granulosa cells, several layers of theca cells and the antrum has formed. Type 1 follicles were observed in day 110 ovaries. Follicle Types 1a and 2 were first observed on day 130. Type 3 follicles were first observed on day 150 and Types 4 and 5 were first observed on day 170. P450arom protein was localized in granulosa cells of follicle Types 2-5 and cells of rete tubules throughout the experimental period. There was punctate expression within stroma and rete masses. There was ERalpha protein localization in pre-granulosa cells and germ cells of ovigerous cords and all surface epithelial cells. There was also localization in granulosa cells and oocytes of all follicle types and cells of rete tubules. There was punctate ERalpha protein expression in stroma and rete masses. ERbeta protein was localized in pre-granulosa cells and germ cells of ovigerous cords. Expression was also localized to granulosa cells of all follicle types and cells of rete tubules. ERbeta protein was punctate in oocytes of follicles, surface epithelial cells, stroma and rete masses. Thus, the fetal ovary of cattle has the steroidogenic enzyme (P450arom) to convert androgens to estradiol-17beta, and estrogen receptors alpha and beta to facilitate an estrogen response within the fetal ovary.

published proceedings

  • Anim Reprod Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Burkhart, M. N., Juengel, J. L., Smith, P. R., Heath, D. A., Perry, G. A., Smith, M. F., & Garverick, H. A.

citation count

  • 26

complete list of authors

  • Burkhart, MN||Juengel, JL||Smith, PR||Heath, DA||Perry, GA||Smith, MF||Garverick, HA

publication date

  • January 2010