The purpose of this study was to determine if nicotine or cotinine inhibits steroidogenesis in the ovarian follicle. Theca interna and granulosa cells were isolated from bovine follicles, cultured with nicotine or cotinine for 24 h, and culture media were assayed for androstenedione or estradiol. Treatment of theca interna with 6, 60, and 600 μM nicotine decreased (P ≤ 0.002) production of androstenedione to 55, 53, and 24% of control levels, respectively. Levels of androstenedione in theca interna treated with cotinine were not different from control values. In granulosa cells, nicotine inhibited production of estradiol at the highest dose tested. Treatment with 600 μM nicotine decreased (P ≤ 0.001) estradiol concentration to 12% of control values, attributable to a general cytotoxic effect. Cotinine had no effect on estradiol production by granulosa cells. These results provide novel evidence for inhibitory effects of nicotine on androgen production by theca interna.
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