In the mammalian ovary, the development of follicles is a complex process that begins with the formation of primordial follicles and culminates either in a normal atretic degradation process or in the release of an oocyte for fertilization. Female reproduction depends, in part, on successful development of follicles. However, large numbers of toxicants target the follicles compromising female reproduction. This article describes the processes occurring and factors controlling primordial follicle formation, activation, growth, and development to the ovulatory stage. Further, this article provides information about deleterious effects and mechanisms that some environmental chemicals use to damage the follicle and thereby impair ovarian function. Although many mechanisms of ovotoxicity have been elucidated, the current knowledge of factors that control follicle development is allowing the design of studies that evaluate new potential end points of toxicity. This will help to develop new strategies of prevention or treatment of toxicant-induced ovotoxicity in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationComprehensive Toxicology, Third Edition
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 1-15
ISBN (Electronic)9780081006122
ISBN (Print)9780081006016
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Antral follicle
  • Atresia
  • Bisphenol A
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Germ cells
  • Granulosa cells
  • Metals
  • Oocyte
  • Oogonia
  • Ovary
  • Ovulation
  • Pesticides
  • Phthalates
  • Plasticizers
  • Preantral follicle
  • Primary follicle
  • Primordial follicle
  • Theca cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Environmental Science


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