Study prompts rethink of how ovaries develop

February 8, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—New research from the University of Adelaide will rewrite the text books on how an ovary is formed, as well as providing new insights into women's health and fertility.

The study, published today in the journal , also names a new type of cell that plays a key role in the development of ovaries and , which are responsible for the production of eggs in women.

The discovery is expected to prompt further studies around the world to better understand how ovaries and ovarian follicles develop in female fetuses. This could be critical to treating or preventing a range of health conditions in later life, including infertility and ovarian cancer.

"For more than a decade, scientists have believed that ovarian are derived from the epithelial cells on the surface of the as it develops," says research leader Professor Ray Rodgers, from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute.

"Instead, contrary to conventional thinking, we've found a new cell type that is the precursor to both the cells on the surface of the ovary and the follicular cells. We call this the GREL (Gonadal Ridge Epithelial-Like) cell."

Professor Rodgers says this work could lead to new insights into a range of conditions, such as premature ovarian failure, , polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and ovarian cancer.

"The role of the ovarian follicle in many of these conditions is very important," he says. "For example, the PCOS ovary is associated with an increased number of growing follicles that at some point just stop working.

"With early menopause, there is a theory that some women may not have had enough egg-producing ovarian follicles at development, so once their reserve of follicles has been used up earlier, menopause sets in.

" is a different story – about 90% of ovarian cancers are of an epithelial type. However, our study has shown us for the first time that when the ovary is first developing, it doesn't have an epithelial layer. Why this is, we're not sure yet."

Explore further: Is Ovarian Cancer Linked to Ovulation?

More information: The paper can be found online on the PLOS ONE website: dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0055578

Related Stories

Is Ovarian Cancer Linked to Ovulation?

July 24, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Could ovulation be the link to ovarian cancer? Joanna Burdette of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy thinks it might be, and she's working to find out.

Role of known cancer gene in ovarian cancer investigated

February 14, 2012
The role of a known cancer-causing gene in the development of the most lethal type of ovarian cancer is being investigated by researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute after they were awarded a Cure Cancer Australia ...

Ovarian cancer arises in fallopian tube of knockout mice

February 13, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- The most deadly form of "ovarian" cancer arises in the fallopian tubes – not the ovaries – of knockout mice that lack two genes associated with the disease, said researchers led by Baylor College ...

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation via cannabinoids

July 18, 2017
Chemical compounds called cannabinoids are found in marijuana and also are produced naturally in the body from omega-3 fatty acids. A well-known cannabinoid in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for some of its ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.