Granulosa cell

Definition - What does Granulosa cell mean?

Granulosa cells are a clump of cells that surround an egg in a developing follicle and ensure that there is an optimum balance of sex hormones in the body to maintain fertility and a potential pregnancy. Following the release of an egg, granulosa cells become the lutein cells of the corpus luteum and start producing progesterone in addition to estrogen.

Estrogen and progesterone are the two main sex hormones that control the sexual development and reproductive function in women. An increase or decrease in the production of these hormones due to abnormalities of the granulosa cells can affect the hormone balance, causing infertility.

FertilitySmarts explains Granulosa cell

Granulosa cells are the main source of estrogen in females after puberty. These cells have a special enzyme that converts androgens produced by the theca cells of the follicle to estrogen. The production of estrogen by granulosa cells is controlled by the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) released by the pituitary gland, which stimulates the follicle to convert androgen to estrogen. Estrogen plays a vital role in sexual development and reproductive function in women.

When an egg is released and the remaining cells of the ovarian follicle transform into the corpus luteum, granulosa cells become the lutein cells. While continuing to produce estrogen, the luteal cells change roles to primarily producing progesterone, a hormone that is important for the second half of the menstrual cycle. Progesterone makes the cervical mucus thick and prepares the uterus for possible implantation of an embryo.

In addition to regulating hormone levels, granulosa cells directly interact with the egg inside the follicle by providing it nutrition and secreting growth factors that are needed for the growth and development of the egg.

Tumors can develop from granulosa cells which can lead to infertility. Some studies have shown that treatment of infertility with drugs that promote ovulation (ovulation induction) can trigger the development of granulosa cell tumors.

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