Immunohistochemical visualization of insulin receptors in formalin-fixed bovine ovaries post mortem and in granulosa cells collected **in vivo**
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Veterinary Sciences
Los Altos, Calif.
Theriogenology: an international journal of animal reproduction. - Los Altos, Calif.
, p. 1210-1219
University of Antwerp
Insulin is crucial for granulosa cell (GC) function, follicle growth and ovulation in cows; low insulin levels increase the risk for anoestrus. Apart from insulin concentration, alterations in the insulin receptor (IR) density on GC may affect follicular growth and steroidogenesis. Data about the IR protein distribution in the bovine follicle are scarce. Therefore, we aimed to develop a quantifiable staining method for IR protein on histological sections of bovine follicles in different developmental stages, and to apply this technique on GC obtained in living cows. In a first experiment, bovine ovaries were collected post mortem, formalin fixed, routinely processed, and stained with monoclonal murine IR-antibodies, peroxidase-labeled goat anti-mouse antibodies, and substrate chromogen. Based on their diameter, follicles were morphologically classified as small antral (SAF; n = 141), dominant (DF; n = 28) or subordinate (SF; n = 8); DF and SF were further classified as healthy or atretic based on the ratio of estrogen and progesterone concentrations in their follicular fluid. Using specialized software, the proportion of pixels displaying a positive staining signal was computed as a measure for IR density in three selected follicular regions: GC, theca (T) and stroma (STR). Results were analyzed in an ANOVA model with follicle type, region and health status as fixed factors. In SAF, DF, and SF, IR density was notably higher in GC than T or STR; the latter two displayed very low or no IR presence. The IR density in SAF was stronger than in DF and tended to be stronger than in SF. Staining intensity was not altered in atretic compared to healthy follicles. In corpus luteum, cumulus-oocyte complexes and pre-antral follicles, no IR could be detected. In a second experiment, GC samples were collected from 20 live cows on 30 and 70 d post partum by transvaginal follicular fluid aspiration, projected on glass slides, and stained using the protocol described above. Most samples yielded sufficient GC and IR was clearly visualized. However, objective quantification of the staining signal was impeded by extensive variation in the arrangement and density of GC and the amount of cellular debris on the slides. Altogether, strong IR presence in GC, most notably in SAF, suggests acquisition of IR as a key event in early follicle growth. Furthermore, we have developed a quantifiable staining technique for bovine follicles that may be applicable for GC obtained in live cows, although this method requires further standardization.