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Ovarian follicle atresia is the periodic process in which immature ovarian follicles degenerate and are subsequently re-absorbed during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Typically around 20 follicles mature each month and only a single follicle is ovulated. The rest undergo atresia. That single dominant follicle becomes a corpus luteum following ovulation.
In addition, two intracellular inhibitor proteins, cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein short form (cFLIPS) and long form (cFLIPL), which were strongly expressed in granulosa cells, may act as anti-apoptotic factors.
It has been proposed that enhanced levels of Nitrogen oxide in rats can prevent atresia of the ovarian follicle, and depressed levels have the opposite effect.
^Matsuda-Minehata F, Goto Y, Inoue N, Manabe N (October 2005). "Changes in expression of anti-apoptotic protein, cFLIP, in granulosa cells during follicular atresia in porcine ovaries". Mol. Reprod. Dev.72 (2): 145–51. doi:10.1002/mrd.20349. PMID16010689.