Theca Cells: The flattened stroma cells forming a sheath or theca outside the basal lamina lining the mature OVARIAN FOLLICLE. Thecal interstitial or stromal cells are steroidogenic, and produce primarily ANDROGENS which serve as precusors of ESTROGENS in the GRANULOSA CELLS.Granulosa Cells: Supporting cells for the developing female gamete in the OVARY. They are derived from the coelomic epithelial cells of the gonadal ridge. Granulosa cells form a single layer around the OOCYTE in the primordial ovarian follicle and advance to form a multilayered cumulus oophorus surrounding the OVUM in the Graafian follicle. The major functions of granulosa cells include the production of steroids and LH receptors (RECEPTORS, LH).Ovarian Follicle: An OOCYTE-containing structure in the cortex of the OVARY. The oocyte is enclosed by a layer of GRANULOSA CELLS providing a nourishing microenvironment (FOLLICULAR FLUID). The number and size of follicles vary depending on the age and reproductive state of the female. The growing follicles are divided into five stages: primary, secondary, tertiary, Graafian, and atretic. Follicular growth and steroidogenesis depend on the presence of GONADOTROPINS.Androstenedione: A delta-4 C19 steroid that is produced not only in the TESTIS, but also in the OVARY and the ADRENAL CORTEX. Depending on the tissue type, androstenedione can serve as a precursor to TESTOSTERONE as well as ESTRONE and ESTRADIOL.Ovary: The reproductive organ (GONADS) in female animals. In vertebrates, the ovary contains two functional parts: the OVARIAN FOLLICLE for the production of female germ cells (OOGENESIS); and the endocrine cells (GRANULOSA CELLS; THECA CELLS; and LUTEAL CELLS) for the production of ESTROGENS and PROGESTERONE.Follicular Atresia: The degeneration and resorption of an OVARIAN FOLLICLE before it reaches maturity and ruptures.Steroid 17-alpha-Hydroxylase: A microsomal cytochrome P450 enzyme that catalyzes the 17-alpha-hydroxylation of progesterone or pregnenolone and subsequent cleavage of the residual two carbons at C17 in the presence of molecular oxygen and NADPH-FERRIHEMOPROTEIN REDUCTASE. This enzyme, encoded by CYP17 gene, generates precursors for glucocorticoid, androgen, and estrogen synthesis. Defects in CYP17 gene cause congenital adrenal hyperplasia (ADRENAL HYPERPLASIA, CONGENITAL) and abnormal sexual differentiation.Progesterone: The major progestational steroid that is secreted primarily by the CORPUS LUTEUM and the PLACENTA. Progesterone acts on the UTERUS, the MAMMARY GLANDS and the BRAIN. It is required in EMBRYO IMPLANTATION; PREGNANCY maintenance, and the development of mammary tissue for MILK production. Progesterone, converted from PREGNENOLONE, also serves as an intermediate in the biosynthesis of GONADAL STEROID HORMONES and adrenal CORTICOSTEROIDS.Luteinization: Formation of CORPUS LUTEUM. This process includes capillary invasion of the ruptured OVARIAN FOLLICLE, hypertrophy of the GRANULOSA CELLS and the THECA CELLS, and the production of PROGESTERONE. Luteinization is regulated by LUTEINIZING HORMONE.Cholesterol Side-Chain Cleavage Enzyme: A mitochondrial cytochrome P450 enzyme that catalyzes the side-chain cleavage of C27 cholesterol to C21 pregnenolone in the presence of molecular oxygen and NADPH-FERRIHEMOPROTEIN REDUCTASE. This enzyme, encoded by CYP11A1 gene, catalyzes the breakage between C20 and C22 which is the initial and rate-limiting step in the biosynthesis of various gonadal and adrenal steroid hormones.Luteinizing Hormone: A major gonadotropin secreted by the adenohypophysis (PITUITARY GLAND, ANTERIOR). Luteinizing hormone regulates steroid production by the interstitial cells of the TESTIS and the OVARY. The preovulatory LUTEINIZING HORMONE surge in females induces OVULATION, and subsequent LUTEINIZATION of the follicle. LUTEINIZING HORMONE consists of two noncovalently linked subunits, alpha and beta. Within a species, the alpha subunit is common in the three pituitary glycoprotein hormones (TSH, LH and FSH), but the beta subunit is unique and confers its biological specificity.Ovulation: The discharge of an OVUM from a rupturing follicle in the OVARY.Follicle Stimulating Hormone: A major gonadotropin secreted by the adenohypophysis (PITUITARY GLAND, ANTERIOR). Follicle-stimulating hormone stimulates GAMETOGENESIS and the supporting cells such as the ovarian GRANULOSA CELLS, the testicular SERTOLI CELLS, and LEYDIG CELLS. FSH consists of two noncovalently linked subunits, alpha and beta. Within a species, the alpha subunit is common in the three pituitary glycoprotein hormones (TSH, LH, and FSH), but the beta subunit is unique and confers its biological specificity.Thecoma: A gonadal stromal neoplasm composed only of THECA CELLS, occurring mostly in the postmenopausal OVARY. It is filled with lipid-containing spindle cells and produces ESTROGENS that can lead to ENDOMETRIAL HYPERPLASIA; UTERINE HEMORRHAGE; or other malignancies in postmenopausal women and sexual precocity in girls. When tumors containing theca cells also contain FIBROBLASTS, they are identified as thecoma-fibroma tumors with less active hormone production.Chorionic Gonadotropin: A gonadotropic glycoprotein hormone produced primarily by the PLACENTA. Similar to the pituitary LUTEINIZING HORMONE in structure and function, chorionic gonadotropin is involved in maintaining the CORPUS LUTEUM during pregnancy. CG consists of two noncovalently linked subunits, alpha and beta. Within a species, the alpha subunit is virtually identical to the alpha subunits of the three pituitary glycoprotein hormones (TSH, LH, and FSH), but the beta subunit is unique and confers its biological specificity (CHORIONIC GONADOTROPIN, BETA SUBUNIT, HUMAN).Follicular Fluid: The fluid surrounding the OVUM and GRANULOSA CELLS in the Graafian follicle (OVARIAN FOLLICLE). The follicular fluid contains sex steroids, glycoprotein hormones, plasma proteins, mucopolysaccharides, and enzymes.Estradiol: The 17-beta-isomer of estradiol, an aromatized C18 steroid with hydroxyl group at 3-beta- and 17-beta-position. Estradiol-17-beta is the most potent form of mammalian estrogenic steroids.Follicular Phase: The period of the MENSTRUAL CYCLE representing follicular growth, increase in ovarian estrogen (ESTROGENS) production, and epithelial proliferation of the ENDOMETRIUM. Follicular phase begins with the onset of MENSTRUATION and ends with OVULATION.Cattle: Domesticated bovine animals of the genus Bos, usually kept on a farm or ranch and used for the production of meat or dairy products or for heavy labor.Corpus Luteum: The yellow body derived from the ruptured OVARIAN FOLLICLE after OVULATION. The process of corpus luteum formation, LUTEINIZATION, is regulated by LUTEINIZING HORMONE.Aromatase: An enzyme that catalyzes the desaturation (aromatization) of the ring A of C19 androgens and converts them to C18 estrogens. In this process, the 19-methyl is removed. This enzyme is membrane-bound, located in the endoplasmic reticulum of estrogen-producing cells of ovaries, placenta, testes, adipose, and brain tissues. Aromatase is encoded by the CYP19 gene, and functions in complex with NADPH-FERRIHEMOPROTEIN REDUCTASE in the cytochrome P-450 system.Gonadotropins, Equine: Gonadotropins secreted by the pituitary or the placenta in horses. This term generally refers to the gonadotropins found in the pregnant mare serum, a rich source of equine CHORIONIC GONADOTROPIN; LUTEINIZING HORMONE; and FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE. Unlike that in humans, the equine LUTEINIZING HORMONE, BETA SUBUNIT is identical to the equine choronic gonadotropin, beta. Equine gonadotropins prepared from pregnant mare serum are used in reproductive studies.Growth Differentiation Factor 9: A bone morphogenetic protein that plays an essential role in the regulation of ovarian folliculogenesis.Steroids: A group of polycyclic compounds closely related biochemically to TERPENES. They include cholesterol, numerous hormones, precursors of certain vitamins, bile acids, alcohols (STEROLS), and certain natural drugs and poisons. Steroids have a common nucleus, a fused, reduced 17-carbon atom ring system, cyclopentanoperhydrophenanthrene. Most steroids also have two methyl groups and an aliphatic side-chain attached to the nucleus. (From Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, 11th ed)Gonadotropins: Hormones that stimulate gonadal functions such as GAMETOGENESIS and sex steroid hormone production in the OVARY and the TESTIS. Major gonadotropins are glycoproteins produced primarily by the adenohypophysis (GONADOTROPINS, PITUITARY) and the placenta (CHORIONIC GONADOTROPIN). In some species, pituitary PROLACTIN and PLACENTAL LACTOGEN exert some luteotropic activities.Luteal Cells: PROGESTERONE-producing cells in the CORPUS LUTEUM. The large luteal cells derive from the GRANULOSA CELLS. The small luteal cells derive from the THECA CELLS.RNA, Messenger: RNA sequences that serve as templates for protein synthesis. Bacterial mRNAs are generally primary transcripts in that they do not require post-transcriptional processing. Eukaryotic mRNA is synthesized in the nucleus and must be exported to the cytoplasm for translation. Most eukaryotic mRNAs have a sequence of polyadenylic acid at the 3' end, referred to as the poly(A) tail. The function of this tail is not known for certain, but it may play a role in the export of mature mRNA from the nucleus as well as in helping stabilize some mRNA molecules by retarding their degradation in the cytoplasm.Receptors, LH: Those protein complexes or molecular sites on the surfaces and cytoplasm of gonadal cells that bind luteinizing or chorionic gonadotropic hormones and thereby cause the gonadal cells to synthesize and secrete sex steroids. The hormone-receptor complex is internalized from the plasma membrane and initiates steroid synthesis.Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A complex disorder characterized by infertility, HIRSUTISM; OBESITY; and various menstrual disturbances such as OLIGOMENORRHEA; AMENORRHEA; ANOVULATION. Polycystic ovary syndrome is usually associated with bilateral enlarged ovaries studded with atretic follicles, not with cysts. The term, polycystic ovary, is misleading.Cells, Cultured: Cells propagated in vitro in special media conducive to their growth. Cultured cells are used to study developmental, morphologic, metabolic, physiologic, and genetic processes, among others.Receptors, Gonadotropin: Those protein complexes or molecular sites on the surfaces of gonadal and other sensitive cells that bind gonadotropins and thereby modify the functions of those cells; hCG, LH, and FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE are the major specific gonadotropins.Androgens: Compounds that interact with ANDROGEN RECEPTORS in target tissues to bring about the effects similar to those of TESTOSTERONE. Depending on the target tissues, androgenic effects can be on SEX DIFFERENTIATION; male reproductive organs, SPERMATOGENESIS; secondary male SEX CHARACTERISTICS; LIBIDO; development of muscle mass, strength, and power.Inhibins: Glycoproteins that inhibit pituitary FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE secretion. Inhibins are secreted by the Sertoli cells of the testes, the granulosa cells of the ovarian follicles, the placenta, and other tissues. Inhibins and ACTIVINS are modulators of FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE secretions; both groups belong to the TGF-beta superfamily, as the TRANSFORMING GROWTH FACTOR BETA. Inhibins consist of a disulfide-linked heterodimer with a unique alpha linked to either a beta A or a beta B subunit to form inhibin A or inhibin B, respectivelyImmunohistochemistry: Histochemical localization of immunoreactive substances using labeled antibodies as reagents.Oocytes: Female germ cells derived from OOGONIA and termed OOCYTES when they enter MEIOSIS. The primary oocytes begin meiosis but are arrested at the diplotene state until OVULATION at PUBERTY to give rise to haploid secondary oocytes or ova (OVUM).Chickens: Common name for the species Gallus gallus, the domestic fowl, in the family Phasianidae, order GALLIFORMES. It is descended from the red jungle fowl of SOUTHEAST ASIA.Swine: Any of various animals that constitute the family Suidae and comprise stout-bodied, short-legged omnivorous mammals with thick skin, usually covered with coarse bristles, a rather long mobile snout, and small tail. Included are the genera Babyrousa, Phacochoerus (wart hogs), and Sus, the latter containing the domestic pig (see SUS SCROFA).Colforsin: Potent activator of the adenylate cyclase system and the biosynthesis of cyclic AMP. From the plant COLEUS FORSKOHLII. Has antihypertensive, positive inotropic, platelet aggregation inhibitory, and smooth muscle relaxant activities; also lowers intraocular pressure and promotes release of hormones from the pituitary gland.Receptors, FSH: Cell surface proteins that bind FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE with high affinity and trigger intracellular changes influencing the behavior of cells.Relaxin: A water-soluble polypeptide (molecular weight approximately 8,000) extractable from the corpus luteum of pregnancy. It produces relaxation of the pubic symphysis and dilation of the uterine cervix in certain animal species. Its role in the human pregnant female is uncertain. (Dorland, 28th ed)Gonadotropins, Pituitary: Hormones secreted by the adenohypophysis (PITUITARY GLAND, ANTERIOR) that stimulate gonadal functions in both males and females. They include FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE that stimulates germ cell maturation (OOGENESIS; SPERMATOGENESIS), and LUTEINIZING HORMONE that stimulates the production of sex steroids (ESTROGENS; PROGESTERONE; ANDROGENS).Paracrine Communication: Cellular signaling in which a factor secreted by a cell affects other cells in the local environment. This term is often used to denote the action of INTERCELLULAR SIGNALING PEPTIDES AND PROTEINS on surrounding cells.Estrous Cycle: The period of cyclic physiological and behavior changes in non-primate female mammals that exhibit ESTRUS. The estrous cycle generally consists of 4 or 5 distinct periods corresponding to the endocrine status (PROESTRUS; ESTRUS; METESTRUS; DIESTRUS; and ANESTRUS).Insulin-Like Growth Factor I: A well-characterized basic peptide believed to be secreted by the liver and to circulate in the blood. It has growth-regulating, insulin-like, and mitogenic activities. This growth factor has a major, but not absolute, dependence on GROWTH HORMONE. It is believed to be mainly active in adults in contrast to INSULIN-LIKE GROWTH FACTOR II, which is a major fetal growth factor.Pregnenolone: A 21-carbon steroid, derived from CHOLESTEROL and found in steroid hormone-producing tissues. Pregnenolone is the precursor to GONADAL STEROID HORMONES and the adrenal CORTICOSTEROIDS.Culture Media, Serum-Free: CULTURE MEDIA free of serum proteins but including the minimal essential substances required for cell growth. This type of medium avoids the presence of extraneous substances that may affect cell proliferation or unwanted activation of cells.Gonadal Steroid Hormones: Steroid hormones produced by the GONADS. They stimulate reproductive organs, germ cell maturation, and the secondary sex characteristics in the males and the females. The major sex steroid hormones include ESTRADIOL; PROGESTERONE; and TESTOSTERONE.Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction: A variation of the PCR technique in which cDNA is made from RNA via reverse transcription. The resultant cDNA is then amplified using standard PCR protocols.GATA6 Transcription Factor: A GATA transcription factor that is expressed predominately in SMOOTH MUSCLE CELLS and regulates vascular smooth muscle CELL DIFFERENTIATION.Estrus: The period in the ESTROUS CYCLE associated with maximum sexual receptivity and fertility in non-primate female mammals.Coculture Techniques: A technique of culturing mixed cell types in vitro to allow their synergistic or antagonistic interactions, such as on CELL DIFFERENTIATION or APOPTOSIS. Coculture can be of different types of cells, tissues, or organs from normal or disease states.Sheep: Any of the ruminant mammals with curved horns in the genus Ovis, family Bovidae. They possess lachrymal grooves and interdigital glands, which are absent in GOATS.Culture Media, Conditioned: Culture media containing biologically active components obtained from previously cultured cells or tissues that have released into the media substances affecting certain cell functions (e.g., growth, lysis).Tissue Culture Techniques: A technique for maintaining or growing TISSUE in vitro, usually by DIFFUSION, perifusion, or PERFUSION. The tissue is cultured directly after removal from the host without being dispersed for cell culture.