Synthesis of retinoic acid by rat ovarian cells that express cellular retinoic acid-binding protein-II.


The induction of pseudopregnancy by the injection of eCG in rats results in the appearance of cellular retinoic acid-binding protein type II (CRABP[II]) in the granulosa cells of the ovary and the lining epithelium of the uterus within 48 h. This expression pattern is also seen in the normal mature female rat, in which CRABP(II) is expressed in the uterine epithelium during estrus (but not diestrus) and in the granulosa and luteal cells of the ovary. We have previously demonstrated that the uterine epithelial cells from the pseudopregnant rat have gained the ability to synthesize retinoic acid from retinol, in correlation with the induced expression of CRABP(II). If this is true for other sites of CRABP(II) expression, then local production of retinoic acid is intimately connected with various stages of reproduction in the female. Here we report that granulosa cells from the ovary of the eCG-treated immature rat and luteal cells from the ovary of the eCG/hCG-treated immature rat (both of which express CRABP[II]) synthesized markedly higher amounts of retinoic acid when cultured, compared to granulosa cells cultured from the ovary of the prepubertal rat treated with control vehicle. Culturing the granulosa cells from either control or eCG-treated animals had no effect on the expression of CRABP(II) cells. These data are consistent with our hypothesis that CRABP(II) expression is associated with retinoic acid synthesis and strengthen the case that local generation of retinoic acid plays an important role in reproduction.