Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Ovarian granulosa cell tumor

Synonym(s): Ovarian neoplasia

Contributor(s): Sophie Mahendran , Kristina Mueller

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  • Granulosa theca cell tumors are more commonly referred to as granulosa cell tumors in cattle.
  • Overall, neoplasia in cattle is uncommon, however the granulosa cell tumor is the most commonly reported type of ovarian tumor in cattle
  • Cause: proliferation of granulosa cells due to dysregulation of several pathways associated with FSH receptors.
  • Signs: cattle may display signs of nymphomania, with a very large lobulated ovary palpated and scanned on rectal examination. Cow may also have irregular estrus cycles, or be in anestrus, thus leading to reduced fertility.
  • Diagnosis: ovarian biopsy and histopathology, or measurement of anti-Mullerian hormone.
  • Treatment: unilateral ovariectomy.
  • Prognosis: if no signs of masculinisation or endometrial changes, return to cyclicity and breeding is possible.



  • Rare, with <0.5% prevalence.
    • Much more commonly diagnosed in dairy breeds compared to beef breeds.
  • Unregulated granulosa cell proliferation following Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) receptor binding, due to dysregulation of signalling pathways.
    • FSH causes oestradiol production -> nymphomaniac clinical signs.
  • No mutations on the FSH receptor have been detected.


  • Granulosa cell tumors originate from sex cord stromal tissue within the ovary.
  • Most are composed of both granulosa and theca cells, although the relative proportions vary.
  • They are usually benign tumors with no metastasis, but occasionally can be malignant.
  • They are usually hormonally active.
  • They are usually unilateral, leading to inactivity of the contralateral ovary and cessation of estrus activity.
    • They often excrete progesterone and estradiol-17 beta.
  • Occasionally, especially in tumors that have been present for long periods, there will be accompanying endometrial changes such as endometrial cysts, mucometra, perimetrial abscesses and endometrial hypoplasia.


  • Chronic.


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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Okawa H, Tomiki M, Ishida T, Kawaguchi H & Wijayagunawardane M P B & Takagi M (2016) Clinical diagnosis of bovine granulosa cell tumour in a Holstein cow using plasma anti-Mullerian hormone concentration: a case report. Journal of Applied Animal Research 45, 529-532.
  • Jackson R, Parker C & Roma L G (2014) Case report: granulosa cell tumour in a Holstein cow. Livestock.
  • El-Sheikh A, Kitahara G, Nibe K, Yamaguchi R, Horii Y, Zaabel S & Osawa T (2013) Plasma anti-Mullerian hormone as a biomarker for bovine granulosa-theca cell tumours: Comparison with immunoreactive inhibin and ovarian steroid hormone. Theriogenology 80 (8), 940-949 PubMed.
  • Peter A T, Levine H, Drost M & Bergfelt D R (2009) Compilation of classical and contemporary terminology used to describe morphological aspects of ovarian dynamics in cattle. Theriogenology 71, 1343-1357 PubMed.
  • Perez-Martinez C, Duran-Navarrete A J, Garcia-Fernandez R A, Espinosa-Alvarez J, Escudero Diez A & Garcia-Iglesias M J (2004) Biological characterisation of ovarian granulosa cell tumours of slaughtered cattle: assessment of cell proliferation and oestrogen receptors. Journal of Comparative Pathology 130, 117-123 PubMed.
  • Bosu W T K (1977) Granulosa cell tumour in a cow: clinical, hormonal and histopathological observations. Theriogenology 8, 119-128.