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Folliculogenesis is a complex process, defined by the growth and development of follicles from the primordial population. Granulosa cells (GCs) play a vital role in every stage of follicular growth through proliferation, acquisition of gonadotropic responsiveness, steroidogenesis, and production of autocrine/paracrine factors. A recently discovered hypothalamic neuropeptide phoenixin, is involved in the regulation of the reproductive system. Phoenixin acts through its receptor, G protein-coupled receptor 173 (GPR173), to activate the cAMP/PKA pathway leading to the phosphorylation of CREB (pCREB). Here, we demonstrated the expression patterns of phoenixin and GPR173 in human ovary and explored its role in folliculogenesis. Phoenixin and GPR173 were both expressed in the human ovarian follicle, with increased expression in GCs as the follicle grows. Phoenixin treatment at 100 nM for 24 h induced the proliferation of human non-luteinized granulosa cell line, HGrC1 and significantly increased the expression levels of CYP19A1, FSHR, LHR, and KITL, but decreased NPPC expression levels. These effects were suppressed by GPR173 siRNA. The expression level of CREB1, pCREB, and estradiol (E2) production in the culture medium was significantly enhanced by phoenixin treatment in a concentration-dependent manner. Phoenixin also significantly increased the follicular area in a murine ovarian tissue culture model, leading to an increased number of ovulated oocytes with a higher level of maturation. Taken together, our data demonstrate that phoenixin is an intraovarian factor that promotes follicular growth through its receptor GPR173 by accelerating proliferation of GCs, inducing E2 production, and increasing the expression of genes related to follicle development.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Reproduction (Cambridge, England)
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