There is a growing body of evidence that intercellular communication is important in the regulation of luteal function. Although the nature of the interactions between small and large luteal cells are not yet clear, it seems likely that they do exist. Many of the substances to which luteal cells respond, such as prostaglandins, growth factors, oxytocin and progesterone, are produced locally. These substances may act as paracrine factors to modulate the response of luteal cells to hormonal signals. Endothelial cells also produce factors that can modify steroidogenesis, and luteal cell-stimulation of endothelial cell proliferation is necessary for the extensive angiogenesis that occurs during luteinization Finally, bidirectional intercellular communication likely occurs between luteal cells and resident immune cells. Immune cells produce cytokines that can modify progesterone and prostaglandin synthesis by luteal cells. Cytokines may also have direct cytotoxic effects on luteal cells, and dead cells are then phagocytized by resident macrophages. Also, factors secreted by luteal cells can serve as chemoattractants for immune cells, and can enhance or suppress immune cell functions. There is little doubt that intercellular communication within the corpus luteum is very complex. One must remember, however, that nearly all evidence collected thus far is based on in vitro studies. Eventually, technology will allow for study of these interactions in vivo, and may lead to new methods for control of luteal function.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Small Animals
- Food Animals
- Animal Science and Zoology