Angiogenesis and vascular regression are critical for the female ovulatory cycle. They enable progression and regression of follicular development, and corpora lutea formation and regression. Angiogenesis in the ovary occurs under the control of the vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGFA) family of proteins, which are generated as both pro-(VEGF165) and anti(VEGF165b)-angiogenic isoforms by alternative splicing. To determine the role of the VEGF165b isoforms in the ovulatory cycle, we measured VEGF165b expression in marmoset ovaries by immunohistochemistry and ELISA, and used transgenic mice over-expressing VEGF165b in the ovary. VEGF165b was expressed in the marmoset ovaries in granulosa cells and theca, and the balance of VEGF165b:VEGF165 was regulated during luteogenesis. Mice over-expressing VEGF165b in the ovary were less fertile than wild-type littermates, had reduced secondary and tertiary follicles after mating, increased atretic follicles, fewer corpora lutea and generated fewer embryos in the oviduct after mating, and these were more likely not to retain the corona radiata. These results indicate that the balance of VEGFA isoforms controls follicle progression and luteogenesis, and that control of isoform expression may regulate fertility in mammals, including in primates
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