The present studies were designed to investigate the nature of the actions of insulin-like growth factor-II (IGF-II) on granulosa cell steroidogenesis and assess the potential facilitative interactions between IGF-II and other major regulators of ovarian sterol metabolism, viz. estrogen, FSH, and low density lipoprotein (LDL). In serum-free first passage monolayer cultures of swine granulosa cells, human recombinant IGF-II stimulated progesterone production with a half-maximally effective concentration of 4.6 ± 1.2 ng/ml (0.61 ± 0.16 nM) between 048 h of culture and 27 ± 5.7 ng/ml (3.6 ± 0.76 nM) between 48-96 h. Maximal progesterone accumulation increased 12-fold over that in untreated cultures (48-96 h). Over the latter interval, IGF-I stimulated progesterone production approximately 10-fold, with a significantly lower ED50 of 6.1 ± 0.70 ng/ml (0.78 ± 0.09 nM; P < 0.01 vs. IGF-II effect). IGF-II (100 ng/ml) enhanced progesterone biosynthesis approximately 2-fold in the presence of 25-hydroxycholesterol, suggesting that IGF-II increases the effective activity of the mitochondrial cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme. IGF-II (100 ng/ml) augmented human LDL-promoted progesterone production approximately 18-fold between 0-48 h of culture and approximately 6-fold between 48-96 h. In addition, IGF-II showed time-dependent stimulatory effects on the rates of [125I]iodo-LDL internalization, and the amounts of cell-associated and degraded lipoprotein. IGF-II increased by approximately 10fold the number of specific high affinity LDL receptors on granulosa cells, with no apparent change in their binding affinity, as assessed in equilibrium competition studies. Coadministration of IGF-II and FSH (100 ng/ml) or estradiol (E2; 1 μg/ml) for 2 days increased progesterone production synergistically. Cotreatment with FSH or E2 for 4 days decreased the ED50 of IGF-II’s stimulation of progesterone accumulation by 61% and 50%, respectively (P < 0.01). Synergistic interactions also existed between IGF-II and 8-bromo-cAMP, which indicates that IGF-II can act in part at cellular loci distal to cAMP generation. Northern blot analysis of total RNA isolated from granulosa cells treated with IGF-II (100 ng/ml), FSH (100 ng/ml), or IGF-II plus FSH for 2 days revealed 5-, 7-, or 8-fold increases, respectively, in the amount of cytochrome P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme mRNA. The same treatments produced 6-fold increases in the level of LDL receptor mRNA, as determined by solution hybridization/RNase protection assays. In summary, immature swine granulosa cells are highly responsive to the actions of IGF-II in vitro. Nanomolar concentrations of IGF-II can enhance progesterone biosynthesis by 12-fold. IGF-II’s mechanisms of action include facilitation of sterol delivery via increased LDL binding and metabolism and concomitantly higher steady state cellular concentrations of LDL receptor mRNA. Moreover, IGF-II augments sterol utilization in progesterone biosynthesis by increasing levels of cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme mRNA. Given the evidence for intrafollicular production of IGF-II in human and porcine ovaries, paracrine and autocrine effects of IGF-II may be physiologically significant in the developing Graafian follicle.
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