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Size-frequency Analysis Of Atresia In Cycling Rats.

A. Hirshfield
Published 1988 · Biology, Medicine

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The purpose of this study was to delineate when, during follicular growth, the alternative developmental pathways leading to ovulation or atresia diverge. By using computerized image analysis techniques, random samples of healthy and atretic follicles in ovaries of cycling rats were subjected to size-frequency analysis. The vast preponderance of atretic follicles were of the early antral size class (approximately 300-350 micron diameter, 800-1000 granulosa cells in the largest cross-section); atretic small follicles (less than 250 granulosa cells in the largest cross-section) were rare. Follicles in early stages of atresia were uncommon in ovaries of animals killed at estrus, but were found with great frequency in ovaries of animals killed the following day (metestrus). These results suggest that, under normal cyclic conditions, there may be only one major branching point during follicular development when growing follicles become susceptible to atresia. The alternative developmental pathways leading to ovulation and atresia may not diverge until the penultimate stage of growth, immediately preceding the final transformation into a preovulatory follicle.
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