Blood flow and metabolism in the corpus luteum of the rat : in vivo and in vitro studies on the ovarian luteal and follicular compartment of the rat

Sammanfattning: The ovary undergoes cyclic changes in follicular growth and luteogenesis due to the action of gonadotropins and steroids. The ovary and especially the corpus luteum has an exteremely high blood flow. There is a gap in our knowledge about the physiological role of the high blood flow of the corpus luteum.The production of lactate, progesterone and cyclic AMP of follicles and corpora lutea incubated in vitro was analyzed and related to the tissue content of ATP to elucidate possible connections between oxygen and substrate levels and energy consumption, steroid output and LH responsiveness in vitro. It was also considered of interest to investigate if the oxygen tensions needed for ATP and progesterone production of the follicle and the corpus luteum differed. A corpus luteum model using adult pseudopregnant rats was developed and characterized according to criteria for identification of corpora lutea as well as levels of plasma steroids and gonadotropins. In vitro progesterone production was compared to plasma progesterone levels. The absolute blood flow of corpora lutea of different ages and the response to injection of hCG, noradrenaline and antidiuretic hormone was investigated with the microsphere technique. Relative blood flow changes of follicles and corpora lutea during follicular growth and luteogenesis in vivo were studied by injecting radiolabelled microspheres to anaesthetized immature rats at different time periods after injection of an ovulatory dose of pregnant mare serum gonadotropin. This approach was chosen to investigate the possible relation between follicular/luteal blood flow, steroid output and morphology in relation to the endogenous gonadotropin surge, ovulation and luteogenesis.Hormonal stimulation by injection of hCG and noradrenaline increased total ovarian blood flow but no evidence was found for a parallelism between luteotropism and blood flow. The increasing effect of hCG on ovarian blood flow was partly due to a shunting of blood from the uterus towards the ovary. The antidiuretic hormone potently decreased ovarian and uterine blood flow by 80-90% while blood flow of some other organs (e.g. kidney and spleen) were hardly affected. The corpus luteum of pseudopregnancy was found to produce 15“ 20 times more progesterone in vitro as compared to the preovulatory follicle. The steroidogenesis and energy production of corpora lutea was found to be more sensitive to decreases in oxygen tension in terms of tissue ATP levels and LH responsiveness of progesterone production while the follicle could compensate by increasing glycolysis. A parallelism between follicular/luteal blood flow and progesterone production in vivo was found. It was shown that the formation, growth and progesterone production of the corpus luteum was accompanied by an increase in blood flow as well as vascularization as seen under the light microscope. The endogenous gonadotropin surge did not change follicular blood flow due to the development of a follicular oedema. We hypothesize that the corpus luteum function in vivo and in vitro is dependent on higher energy levels than the preovulatory follicle and that the transformation of the follicle to a corpus luteum is supported by a high nutritive blood flow possibly to support a high demand for energy-rich substrates.