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B. P. Fitzgerald, H. I'Anson, R. G. Loy and S. J. Legan

Summary. Administration of a GnRH agonist (5 μg) every 12 h to long-term ovariectomized ewes for 5 or 10 days during the breeding season suppressed mean LH levels from around 6 to 1 ng/ml on Days 1 and 4 after treatment; on Day 1 after treatment LH pulse frequency and amplitude were lower than pretreatment values. On Day 4 after treatment LH pulse frequency was restored to pretreatment levels (1 per h) whereas LH pulse amplitude had only slightly increased from 0·5 to 1 ng/ml, a value 25% of that before treatment. This increase in amplitude was greater the shorter the duration of treatment. Ovariectomized ewes treated with the agonist for 5 days exhibited both negative and positive feedback actions after implantation of a capsule containing oestradiol; however, compared to control ewes treated with oestradiol only, the positive and negative feedback actions of oestradiol were blunted.

These results suggest that the recovery of tonic LH concentrations after GnRH agonist-induced suppression is limited primarily by changes in LH pulse amplitude. The results also demonstrate that the feedback actions of oestradiol are attenuated, but not blocked, by GnRH agonist treatment.

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B. P. Fitzgerald, Helen I'Anson, R. G. Loy and Sandra J. Legan

Summary. To determine whether tonic LH secretion in ovariectomized mares is characterized by pulsatile release, frequent blood samples (every 15 min) were collected from 5 ovariectomized horse mares in nine 8-h periods between February and May. Mean serum LH concentrations increased 9-fold and were associated with a 4-fold increase in mean LH pulse frequency. These results provide the first evidence of pulsatile LH release in ovariectomized mares and suggest that the increasing daylengths of the spring months may increase serum LH by increasing LH pulse frequency.

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B. P. Fitzgerald, K. J. Affleck, S. P. Barrows, W. L. Murdoch, K. B. Barker and R. G. Loy

Summary. Two groups of mares were exposed to an abrupt, artificial increase or a natural increase in daylength. In both groups, mean LH pulse frequency increased with time of year and was accompanied by a reciprocal decrease in LH pulse amplitude. A non-pulsatile pattern of LH secretion was observed in some mares sampled close to the day of ovulation. Maximum mean LH pulse frequency and the onset of the breeding season occurred earlier in those mares exposed to an abrupt artificial increase in daylength. In blood samples collected frequently, mean serum LH concentrations increased in relation to time of year. However, during 60 days before ovulation, when LH pulse frequency increased, mean daily serum LH values only increased on Day – 3 before ovulation. The magnitude of the periovulatory LH rise was greater before the second than the first ovulation of the breeding season. These results support the hypothesis that, in the mare, a photoperiod-induced seasonal alteration in LH pulse frequency and/or amplitude may play a role in the onset of the breeding season.