Graafian Follicle


Other Known Aliasestertiary vesicular follicle


Definition – Small fluid-filled sac in the ovary containing a maturing egg that develops after the first meiotic division has completed but before ovulation.


Image result for graafian follicle

Image result for graafian follicle


Clinical SignificanceThis follicle secretes estrogen and inhibin to aid in ovulation and promote implantation should fertilization occur by negatively feeding back to the pituitary to decrease LH and FSH.


History – Named after Regnier de Graaf (1641-1673), who was a Dutch physician and anatomist who made tremendous advancements in reproductive anatomy and physiology long before the invention of the microscope.  He published his findings in 1668 and 1672, which was received with controversy by some of his contemporaries since several before him noticed these follicles but failed to recognize their significance in reproduction.  The term Graafian follicle was given to him Albrecht von Haller who called it the ova Graafiana.


Reinier de Graaf 17e eeuw.jpg


  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com
  5. De Graaf, R.  De Virorum Organis Generationi Inservientibus, de Clysteribus et de Usu Siphonis in Anatomia. 1668.
  6. Ankum WM, Houtzager HL, Bleker OP. Reinier De Graaf (1641-1673) and the fallopian tube. Human reproduction update. ; 2(4):365-9. [pubmed]
  7. Jay V. A portrait in history. The legacy of Reinier de Graaf. Archives of pathology & laboratory medicine. 2000; 124(8):1115-6. [pubmed]

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