Ovulation-inducing factor (OIF/NGF) in seminal plasma: a review and update
- The ovulation-inducing effect of seminal plasma was first reported in Bactrian camels over 30 years ago, and the entity responsible was dubbed 'ovulation-inducing factor' (OIF). More recent studies, primarily in llamas and alpacas, characterized the biological and chemical properties of OIF and ultimately identified it as beta NGF. This recent discovery has allowed a convergence of knowledge previously separated by discipline and by mechanism; that is, neurobiology and reproductive biology, and autocrine/paracrine vs endocrine. To preserve this link, we have referred to the seminal factor as OIF/NGF. As a highly conserved protein, the implications of discoveries related to OIF/NGF in reproductive tissues extend beyond the camelid species, and results of recent studies show that the presence and function of OIF/NGF in seminal plasma are conserved among species considered to be induced ovulators as well as those considered to be spontaneous ovulators. The abundance of OIF/NGF in seminal plasma and the effects of seminal plasma on ovarian function strongly support the idea of an endocrine mode of action (i.e. systemic distribution with distant target tissues). This review is intended to provide an update on the progress in our understanding of the nature of OIF/NGF in seminal plasma and its effects on reproductive function in the female, including the effects of dose and route of administration, evidence for ovarian effects in other species, tissue sources of OIF/NGF and early findings related to the mechanism of action of OIF.