Reduction in fertility is well known to be possibly related to selenium deficiencies, even if target organ for selenium action is, at present, unclear. The present study was aimed to examine whether selenium directly influences granulosa cells. Bovine granulosa cells from different size follicles were used to investigate the effect of selenium (5 ng/ml), with or without bovine follicle-stimulating hormone (bFSH) (100 ng/ml), on proliferation and steroidogenesis. In addition, we sought to determine if selenium modulates the production of nitric oxide, which is known to play an important role in ovarian activity. Our data demonstrate that selenium significantly (P < 0.001) stimulates the proliferation of the cells from small follicles; moreover, it further potentiates the stimulatory effect of the gonadotropin in the same cells. Furthermore, selenium significantly (P < 0.01) augments E2 output by cells from both kinds of follicles. bFSH increases E2 production (P < 0.01) by cells from large follicles, whereas it exerts a stimulatory (P < 0.01) effect only in the presence of selenium in the cells from the small ones. The production of nitric oxide is significantly increased (P < 0.001) by bFSH, but only in cells from small follicles. Selenium inhibits (P < 0.001) nitric oxide production in cells from both kinds of follicles and significantly decreases (P < 0.001) bFSH-induced nitric oxide production in cells from the small ones. We conclude that selenium acts on granulosa cells by modulating their proliferation and E2 synthesis; moreover, its effect could be mediated, at least in part, through an inhibition of nitric oxide. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.
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