Insulin-like growth factor binding proteins in follicular fluid from normal dominant and cohort follicles, polycystic and multicystic ovaries

J M Holly, J A Eden, J Alaghband-Zadeh, G D Carter, R C Jemmott, S Cianfarani, T Chard, J A Wass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


There is now considerable evidence that the insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) play an important role in the human ovary. It has also recently become apparent that the physiological activity of the IGFs is modulated by a number of specific binding proteins (IGFBPs). In order to understand the role of the IGFs in ovarian physiology, the presence and functions of these IGFBPs will need to be characterized. As an initial step towards this we have investigated the presence of the various binding proteins by Western ligand blotting and have measured the levels of one of them, IGFBP-1, in follicular fluid (FF) obtained from unstimulated dominant and cohort follicles in 19 normal women and in eight patients with polycystic and one with multicystic ovaries. In normal women, IGFBP-1 levels in dominant follicles were similar to matched serum levels but were significantly lower in cohort follicles. IGFBP-1 levels correlated with FF-volume (r = 0.58, P less than 0.001) and with paired serum levels (r = 0.63, P less than 0.001). In post-LH surge dominant follicles this relationship with serum levels no longer held and in three out of nine subjects FF levels were higher than in serum. Thus IGFBP-1 in normal human FF appears to be partly derived from the circulation but with additional local production in the larger developing dominant follicles. Western ligand blotting revealed five IGF-binding proteins in FF running parallel with those identified in serum, suggesting that the IGFBP species previously identified in serum may also be present in FF. The two bands in positions corresponding to the components of the large (150kDa) binding complex were, as in serum, the predominant forms and in most FF samples these were even more prominent than in the accompanying serum sample. This contrasts with previous studies in lymph which suggested that the 150kDa complex was largely retained in the circulation. All three small IGFBPs varied considerably between FF samples even within an individual; each IGFBP varied independently of the other IGFBPs. Our results demonstrate that at least four discrete IGFBPs are present in FF and suggest that each may be produced independently within the ovary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-64
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1990


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