Glycosaminoglycan-bound and free inter-α-trypsin inhibitor components of follicular fluid
The proteinase inhibitor inter-α trypsin inhibitor (ITI) is a blood-derived protein necessary for normal female fertility. Absence of ITI leads to ovulation of naked oocytes that cannot fertilise. ITI consists of two heavy chains (ITI-HC) and bikunin linked by a chrondroitin sulphate. By binding to hyaluronate, ITI-HC stabilises the extracellular matrix, but ITI-HC also binds to proteoglycans in follicular fluid. In vivo concentrations of ITI components in preovulatory follicular fluid, free as well as bound to hyaluronate or proteoglycan, are unknown. In order to quantify these components, 58 follicular fluids and 13 blood samples were collected in connection with in vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer treatment of 13 women. Quantitation of glycosaminoglycan-bound ITI-HC was performed after separation from free ITI in agarose gel. ITI components were determined by immunoelectrophoresis and hyaluronate by an ELISA method. The follicular fluid concentration of ITI was on average 70% of that in plasma and the concentration of hyaluronate remained low despite follicular production, suggesting that the production of hyaluronate is the rate-limiting step in the formation of the extracellular matrix of the oocyte-cumulus complex. In follicular fluid, the concentration of free ITI-HC was higher than that of glycosaminoglycan-bound ITI-HC. Addition of exogeneous hyaluronate doubled the amount of hyaluronate-bound ITI-HC, further supporting the notion that ITI in follicular fluid is not rate-limiting for cumulus expansion in vivo.(Received April 7 01)
(Accepted May 15 01)
Key Words: Bikunin; Hyaluronic acid; Fertility.
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