We have examined the uptake and distribution of 125I-labeled human high density lipoprotein, apolipoprotein E-free (hHDL3), 125I-rat high density lipoprotein (HDL), and human HDL (hHDL) reconstituted with [3H]cholesteryl linoleate after their in situ vascular perfusion to ovaries of gonadotropin-primed immature rats on days 6-9 post human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)-injection. Some rats were treated with 4-aminopyrazolopyrimidine to reduce plasma lipoproteins and ovarian cholesteryl ester stores. Perfused ovaries were analyzed biochemically and autoradiographically, and progestin content of the ovarian effluent was quantified. Infusion of ovine luteinizing hormone and hHDL increased ovarian progestin secretion severalfold, indicating that the perfused ovary was functional. After perfusion with HDL reconstituted with [3H]cholesteryl linoleate, radioactive progestin appeared in the effluent; thus, sterol carried by exogenous HDL was converted to steroid. At 37 degrees C, uptake of 125I-hHDL3 was greatest after 15 min of perfusion with label. This was decreased by 80% when the perfusion was carried out at 4 degrees C and by 70-95% when excess unlabeled hHDL, but not human low density lipoprotein (hLDL), was included in the perfusate with 125I-hHDL. Aminopyrazolopyrimidine treatment enhanced 125I-hHDL uptake twofold. After perfusion for 15 min with 125I-hHDL3, radioactivity in the ovary was high for 3-30 min of HDL-free wash, then declined 75% by 30-60 min. With light and electron microscope autoradiography, 125I-hHDL3 was localized to corpora lutea, both along luteal cell surfaces and over their cytoplasm. The plasma membrane grains appeared to be associated with segments that lacked bristle coats. Perfusion with 125I-rat HDL produced a similar pattern of labeling. In ovaries perfused with 125I-BSA, silver grains were concentrated over macrophage-like cells but were sparse over luteal cells. We conclude that the in situ perfused rat ovary takes up 125I-hHDL3 by a temperature-dependent, lipoprotein-specific process, and that this lipoprotein is accumulated by luteal cells.

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