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Is angiogenic potential of follicular fluid (FF) and granulosa-lutein cells (GLCs) altered in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and does it play a role in corpus luteum (CL) defect observed in them? FF and GLCs of women with PCOS show reduced expression of pro-angiogenic factors compared to controls and exhibit a diminished capacity to induce angiogenesis. In women with PCOS, CL insufficiency and frequent miscarriage are reported, which may be due to defect in CL. The development of new blood vessels is essential to promote ovarian folliculogenesis and functional CL formation. The vasculature formation in CL which is important for its function is still unexplored in these women. This case-control study was conducted in 30 healthy control women and 30 women with PCOS undergoing controlled ovarian hyperstimulation for IVF. The FF, GLCs and serum were collected from all participants during ovum pick up. The capacity of FF to induce angiogenesis was assessed by measuring levels of pro-angiogenic factors vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) and its tube formation and wound healing potential using human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). We investigated the angiogenic potential and endothelial cell-like nature of GLCs using several approaches such as the expression of angiogenic genes by quantitative PCR, DiI-conjugated acetylated low-density lipoproteins (Dil-Ac-LDL) internalization assay, tube formation assay, expression of endothelial cell markers by immunofluorescence analysis. In addition, correlation of transcript levels of angiogenic genes with oocyte parameters was studied. FF and serum levels of VEGF and FGF2 were significantly higher and lower, respectively, in PCOS compared to controls. The tube formation and wound healing capacity of HUVECs was found to be reduced when measured after supplementation with FF of women with PCOS compared to controls. This suggests a decreased angiogenic capacity of FF in women with PCOS. Tube formation (P = 0.003) and Dil-Ac-LDL internalization (P = 0.03) ability of GLCs were significantly reduced in women with PCOS compared to controls. Protein expression levels of endothelial markers, vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) (P = 0.004), vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) (P = 0.011), TEK Receptor Tyrosine Kinase (Tie-2) (P = 0.026), fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR1) (P = 0.026) and CD31 (P = 0.035) and transcript levels of angiogenic genes VEGFA (P = 0.042), hypoxia inducing factor 1A (HIF1A) (P = 0.025), FGF2 (P = 0.038), angiopoietin 1 (ANGPT1) (P = 0.028), heparin sulfate proteoglycan 2 (HSPG2) (P = 0.016), ADAM metallopeptidase with thrombospondin type1 motif, 1 (ADAMTS1) (P = 0.027) and fibronectin 1 (FN1) (P = 0.016) were found to be low in GLCs of PCOS compared to controls. Thus, the findings of this study indicate that endothelial cell-like characteristics of GLCs were significantly decreased in PCOS. Furthermore, transcript levels of VEGFA (r = 0.46, P = 0.009), ADAMTS1 (r = 0.55, P = 0.001), FGF2 (r = 0.42, P = 0.022) and ANGPT2 (r = 0.47, P = 0.008) showed a positive correlation with oocyte fertilization rate. The vasculature formation in CL is not possible to study in women, but we explored the angiogenic characteristics of FF and GLC obtained from women with PCOS to speculate any vascularization defect of CL in these women. The FF and GLCs were obtained from the stimulated cycle during oocyte retrieval, which may not exactly mimic the in-vivo condition. The small sample size is another limitation of this study. Larger sample size and support by color Doppler studies on CL blood flow would help to strengthen our findings. Our findings suggest that the altered angiogenic potential of FF and GLCs may affect vasculature development required for CL formation and function in PCOS. These findings pave the way to devise therapeutic strategies to support angiogenesis process in follicle of women with PCOS, which may improve CL insufficiency, progesterone levels and prevent frequent miscarriages in these women. Furthermore, our study also hypothesizes that the vascularization around the ovarian follicles is also compromised which may lead to the growth arrest of the follicles in PCOS, however, this needs thorough investigations. This work was supported by Grant BT/PR16524/MED/97/346/2016 from the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose. N/A. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:


Krutika Patil, Indira Hinduja, Srabani Mukherjee. Alteration in angiogenic potential of granulosa-lutein cells and follicular fluid contributes to luteal defects in polycystic ovary syndrome. Human reproduction (Oxford, England). 2021 Mar 18;36(4):1052-1064

PMID: 33377483

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