Cellular, Extracellular and Extracellular Vesicular miRNA Profiles of Pre-Ovulatory Follicles Indicate Signaling Disturbances in Polycystic Ovaries


Cell-free RNAs have the potential to act as a means of gene expression regulation between cells and are therefore used as diagnostic markers describing the state of tissue environment. The origin and functions of such RNAs in human ovarian follicle, the environment of oocyte maturation, are unclear. The current study investigates the difference in the microRNA profiles of fertile women and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) patients in three compartments from the same preovulatory follicle: mural granulosa cells (MGC), cell-free follicular fluid (FF), and extracellular vesicles (EV) of the FF by small RNA sequencing. In silico analysis was used for the prediction and over-representation of targeted pathways for the detected microRNAs. PCOS follicles were distinguished from normal tissue by the differential expression of 30 microRNAs in MGC and 10 microRNAs in FF (FDR < 0.1) that commonly regulate cytokine signaling pathways. The concentration of EV-s was higher in the FF of PCOS patients (p = 0.04) containing eight differentially expressed microRNAs (p < 0.05). In addition, we present the microRNA profiles of MGC, FF, and EV in the fertile follicle and demonstrate that microRNAs loaded into EVs target mRNAs of distinct signaling pathways in comparison to microRNAs in FF. To conclude, the three follicular compartments play distinct roles in the signaling disturbances associated with PCOS.



extracellular vesicles; human ovarian follicle; granulosa cells; follicular fluid; polycystic ovary syndrome; PCOS; miRNA; intercellular communication