Ovarian Follicles and Follicular Development

Follicles (Figure 1-10-1) are located in the cortical stroma and are composed of oocytes surrounded by follicular (granulosa) cells.

• Approximately 400,000 follicles are present in the newborn ovaries. Only a small percentage of the oocytes (approximately 450) reach maturity in the adult.

■ The remaining follicles eventually degenerate through a process called atresia* Atresia may occur at any stage of follicular development.

Primordial follicles

The primary oocyte surrounded by a single layer of flattened follicular cells.

Primary follicles

The primary oocyte and one or more layers of cuboidal-like follicular cells.

Secondary follicles

The follicular cavity (antrum), cumulus oophorus, and corona radiata develop CT surrounding the follicle. The CT develops into the theca interna and externa.

The theca interna produces androgens, which are converted into estradiol by granulosa cells.

The zona pellucida forms around the oocyte; it is rich in polysaccharides (periodic acid-Schiff [PAS]-positive).

Graafian follicle

The graafian follicle is the mature follicle that extends through the entire cortex.

Developing Secondary

Developing Secondary

corpus luteum Figure 1-10-1. Follicular Development

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