Developmentally regulated IL6-type cytokines signal to germ cells in the human fetal ovary

Sharon L Eddie, Andrew J Childs, Henry N Jabbour, Richard A Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Fetal ovarian development and primordial follicle formation are imperative for adult fertility in the female. Data suggest the interleukin (IL)6-type cytokines, leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF), IL6, oncostatin M (OSM) and ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), are able to regulate the survival, proliferation and differentiation of fetal murine germ cells (GCs) in vivo and in vitro. We postulated that these factors may play a similar role during early human GC development and primordial follicle formation. To test this hypothesis, we have investigated the expression and regulation of IL6-type cytokines, using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. Expression of transcripts encoding OSM increased significantly across the gestational range examined (8-20 weeks), while expression of IL6 increased specifically between the first (8-11 weeks) and early second (12-16 weeks) trimesters, co-incident with the initiation of meiosis. LIF and CNTF expression remained unchanged. Expression of the genes encoding the LIF and IL6 receptors, and their common signalling subunit gp130, was also found to be developmentally regulated, with expression increasing significantly with increasing gestation. LIF receptor and gp130 proteins localized exclusively to GCs, including oocytes in primordial follicles, indicating this cell type to be the sole target of IL6-type cytokine signalling in the human fetal ovary. These data establish that IL6-type cytokines and their receptors are expressed in the human fetal ovary and may directly influence GC development at multiple stages of maturation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-95
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular human reproduction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • Adult
  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Cytokine Receptor gp130
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6
  • Leukemia Inhibitory Factor
  • Oncostatin M
  • Oocytes
  • Ovarian Follicle
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimesters
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Receptor, Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Receptors, Oncostatin M
  • Signal Transduction

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