Prediction of Ovarian Follicular Dominance by MRI Phenotyping of Hormonally Induced Vascular Remodeling

Liat Fellus-Alyagor, Inbal E Biton, Hagit Dafni, Filip Bochner, Ron Rotkopf, Nava Dekel, Michal Neeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the mammalian female, only a small subset of ovarian follicles, known as the dominant follicles (DFs), are selected for ovulation in each reproductive cycle, while the majority of the follicles and their resident oocytes are destined for elimination. This study aimed at characterizing early changes in blood vessel properties upon the establishment of dominance in the mouse ovary and application of this vascular phenotype for prediction of the follicles destined to ovulate. Sexually immature mice, hormonally treated for induction of ovulation, were imaged at three different stages by dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) MRI: prior to hormonal administration, at the time of DF selection, and upon formation of the corpus luteum (CL). Macromolecular biotin-bovine serum albumin conjugated with gadolinium-diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (b-BSA-GdDTPA) was intravenously injected, and the dynamics of its extravasation from permeable vessels as well as its accumulation in the antral cavity of the ovarian follicles was followed by consecutive T1-weighted MRI. Permeability surface area product (permeability) and fractional blood volume (blood volume) were calculated from b-BSA-GdDTPA accumulation. We found that the neo-vasculature during the time of DF selection was characterized by low blood volume and low permeability values as compared to unstimulated animals. Interestingly, while the vasculature of the CL showed higher blood volume compared to the DF, it exhibited a similar permeability. Taking advantage of immobilized ovarian imaging, we combined DCE-MRI and intravital light microscopy, to reveal the vascular properties of follicles destined for dominance from the non-ovulating subordinate follicles (SFs). Immediately after their selection, permeability of the vasculature of DF was attenuated compared to SF while the blood volume remained similar. Furthermore, DFs were characterized by delayed contrast enhancement in the avascular follicular antrum, reflecting interstitial convection, whereas SFs were not. In this study, we showed that although DF selection is accompanied by blood vessel growth, the new vasculature remained relatively impermeable compared to the vasculature in control animal and compared to SF. Additionally, DFs show late signal enhancement in their antrum. These two properties may aid in clinical prediction of follicular dominance at an early stage of development and help in their diagnosis for possible treatment of infertility.
Original languageEnglish
Article number711810
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Volume8
DOIs
StatePublished - 20 Aug 2021

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