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Corpus luteum

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from Latin: "corpus" - body and "luteus" - yellow
Synonym: yellow body
German: Corpus luteum

1 Definition

Corpus luteum, or colloquially yellow body, is a hormone-producing cluster of cells that arises from the follicle after ovulation.

The corpus luteum is formed under the influence of LH (luteinizing hormone). In the corpus luteum, progesterone and small amounts of estrogens are increasingly produced in the second half of the cycle.

2 Generation

After ovulation, the structure of the follicle changes. The basement membrane is dissolved, and theca cells and granulosa cells are transforming into granulosa lutein cells and theca lutein cells under the influence of LH. This process is called luteinization. It hemorrhages into the empty follicle cavity; that's why it's at first called Corpus haemorrhagicum or Corpus rubrum. Within a short time, this evolves into the yellow colored Corpus luteum.

3 Function

The function of the Corpus luteum is the production of hormones. Mainly, the granulosa lutein cells produce progesterone, therefore it is also called Corpus luteum hormone. The daily amount of production of the Corpus luteum after ovulation lies between 20 and 50 mg. This leads to a 50 to 100-fold increase of the blood progesterone level up to more than 10 ng/ml within a few days.

Furthermore, the theca lutein cells of the Corpus luteum produce estrogens. However, the high progesterone level keeps the gonadotropin level low in the luteal phase (negative feedback to the pituitary gland so that no further follicles can mature.

4 Forms

4.1 Corpus luteum menstruationis

If there is no fertilization of the ovum in the menstrual cycle, the Corpus luteum forms back. The maximum size of the Corpus luteum is reached 9 days after ovulation, then, the connective tissue degeneration (luteolysis) is beginning.

That leads to a decrease in the production of estrogens and progesterone. This hormone decrease causes the degradation of the endometrium and, thereby, the onset of menstruation.

The degenerated Corpus luteum is called Corpus albicans for the whitish color of the scar tissue. The Corpora albicans remain there, and they are discernible in the scarred superficial structure of the ovaries of elderly women.

4.2 Corpus luteum graviditatis

If fertilization of the ovum occurs, the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) prevents the degeneration of the Corpus luteum. In contrast, what happens is proliferation. The Corpus luteum produces estrogens and progesterone for the support of the pregnancy app. until the 8th to 10th week of pregnancy. The next phase is the luteoplacental shift - from this moment on, hormone production is taken over by the placenta or the fetoplacental unit.

4.3 Corpus luteum insufficiency

A functional insufficiency of the Corpus luteum leads to a decreased plasma concentration of the hormones produced there. This shortens the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, and the endometrium cannot transform according to the cycle. The development of a pregnancy can be impeded by this. Moreover, in an existing pregnancy, there might be a miscarriage (early abortion).

The therapy of Corpus luteum insufficiency consists in the substitution of progesterone and its derivatives.


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