Follicular competition: the selection of dominant follicles as a synergistic effect

Please always quote using this URN: urn:nbn:de:0297-zib-63863
  • The estrous cycle of mono-ovulatory species such as cows or humans, is known to show two or more waves of follicular growth and decline between two successive ovulations. Within each wave, there is one dominant follicle escorted by subordinate follicles of varying number. Under the surge of the luteinizing hormone a growing dominant follicle ovulates. Rarely the number of ovulating follicles exceeds one. In the biological literature, the change of hormonal concentrations and individually varying numbers of follicular receptors are made responsible for the selection of exactly one dominant follicle, yet a clear cause has not been identified. In this paper, we suggest a synergistic explanation based on competition, formulated by a parsimoniously defined system of ordinary differential equations (ODEs) that quantifies the time evolution of multiple follicles and their competitive interaction during one wave. Not discriminating between follicles, growth and decline are given by fixed rates. Competition is introduced via a growth-suppressing term, equally supported by all follicles. We prove that the number of dominant follicles is determined exclusively by the ratio of follicular growth and competition. This number turns out to be independent of the number of subordinate follicles. The asymptotic behavior of the corresponding dynamical system is investigated rigorously, where we demonstrate that the omega-limit set only contains fixed points. When also including follicular decline, our ODEs perfectly resemble ultrasound data of bovine follicles. Implications for the involved but not explicitly modeled hormones are discussed.

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Author:Alexander Lange, Robert Schwieger, Julia Plöntzke, Stefan Schäfer, Susanna Röblitz
Document Type:ZIB-Report
Date of first Publication:2017/05/03
Series (Serial Number):ZIB-Report (17-21)
ISSN:1438-0064
Published in:Journal of Mathematical Biology
DOI:https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1007/s00285-018-1284-0