Distinct expression patterns of TLR transcripts in human oocytes and granulosa cells from primordial and primary follicles

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Ovulation has long been regarded as a process resembling an inflammatory response. Previously, luteinizing hormone (LH) was shown to induce Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) and TLR4 in granulosa cells from preovulatory hormone-dependent follicles. However, whether this could already initiate before the hormone-dependent phase is currently unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate TLR genes in human oocytes and granulosa cells from primordial and primary ovarian follicles during the hormone-independent phase. A class-comparison study of existing oocyte and granulosa cell RNA sequencing transcriptomes from primordial (n = 539 follicles) and primary (n = 261) follicles collected from three patients was examined. This revealed a distinct expression pattern of TLR3, TLR4 and TLR5 transcripts. Interestingly, the TLR3 protein was differentially detected in both the oocyte and the granulosa cells in primordial and primary follicles, suggesting that TLR3 is maternally contributed both as mRNA and protein. Intracellularly, the compartmentalized TLR3 dot-like staining in the intersection between the oocyte and the surrounding primordial granulosa cells. The TLR4 protein was detected in both primordial and primary follicles, with a notable staining in the granulosa cells. We functionally challenged ovaries in vitro, by polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly I:C) and LPS, known to activate TLR3 and TLR4, respectively, and found a tendency for increased IL-6 production, which was particular evident in the LPS-treated group. Based on the expression of TLRs, it is notably that human primordial and primary follicles express genes that would allow them to respond to innate immune proteins and cytokines during follicle activation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103125
JournalJournal of Reproductive Immunology
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.

    Research areas

  • Human primordial follicles, Toll-like receptors, granulosa cells, oocytes

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