Scaling of follicular sizes in mammalian ovaries



The scaling of ovarian follicle and oocyte sizes according to body weight (M, ranging from 0005–500 kg) has been analysed using data obtained from 22 mammalian species in nine orders. The diameters of non-growing (primordial) follicles were correlated significantly with body weight, the relationship being described by the allometric formula y = 0028M0.10. The mean size at which growing follicles began to accumulate extracellular fluid was approximately the same in all species, 0–3 mm diameter. Graafian follicle sizes varied allometrically with body weight as a result of differences in the volumes of follicular fluid rather than those of oocytes, which were relatively similar in eutherian mammals. The statistical significance of the correlation between Graafian and body sizes was increased when the dimensions for an ovulatory quota of follicles were combined because follicles in polyovulating species were disproportionately small. The total Graafian surface areas and volumes were then predicted from body weight by 58–4M0.65 and 18–5M1.06, respectively. Follicular dimensions in the three species of primates were significantly greater than predicted by the allometric relationship. The exponents of these relationships show that the total volume of a set of preovulatory follicles varies approximately isometrically with body weight and, therefore, with the presumptive hormone distribution volume (M1.0). The hypoallometric relationship of follicular surface area demonstrates that, during the course of the evolution of body size, the surface area for secretion has not increased to match the dilution of hormones in the body pool.