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R. B. L. Gwatkin, G. H. Rasmusson and D. T. Williams


Fusion of capacitated spermatozoa with the vitelline membrane, but not actual penetration, appears to initiate the cortical reaction in hamster eggs. The reaction can be artificially induced by the application of positively charged particles to the vitelline surface, a situation which may normally be prevented by the zona pellucida. Exposure of hamster eggs to neuraminidase, to lectins (concanavalin A and phytohaemagglutinin-P), to a monovalent ionophore (boromycin) and to 1,3-bis(4chlorocinnamylideneamino)guanidine elicits a cortical granule discharge resulting in a block to fertilization. These agents all appear to act by inducing depolarization of the vitelline membrane.

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An analysis of 143 litters of Peromyscus polionotus showed that litter size increased by 0·30 mice/litter up to the fourth pregnancy. After the fourth litter, litter size increased at a lesser rate to the sixth pregnancy.

Growth followed the same general pattern as did litter size. The effect of order of litter was significant for weights up to 28 days of age. In general, average weight of the mice increased up to the sixth pregnancy and then decreased.

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B. J. Williams, J. R. Watts, P. J. Wright, G. Shaw and M. B. Renfree

At birth, the physiological role of prostaglandins in bitches is unclear. Bitches were treated before parturition with either saline, the prostaglandin analogue, sodium cloprostenol, or the prostaglandin synthetase inhibitor, flunixin meglumine. The animals were examined regularly to determine the onset of parturition and a series of blood samples were taken to define the hormonal profiles before, during and after birth. Animals treated with cloprostenol whelped earlier than did controls. In addition, the prostaglandin F metabolite surge and decrease in plasma progesterone concentration and rectal temperature were earlier than in controls. Flunixin meglumine disrupted the normal 13,14-dihydro-15-keto prostaglandin F profile but did not abolish prostaglandin synthesis completely or delay the onset of labour in treated animals. This study confirms that prostaglandins induce luteolysis and the onset of labour in the bitch. However, the partial inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis does not prevent parturition.

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M Amstalden, D A Zieba, M R Garcia, R L Stanko, T H Welsh Jr, W H Hansel and G L Williams

Experiments were performed to test the hypothesis that lamprey GnRH-III (lGnRH-III) selectively releases FSH. Primary cultures of bovine adenohypophyseal cells were treated with mammalian GnRH (mGnRH) and lGnRH-III (10−9, 10−8, 10−7 and 10−6 M) or control media in Experiment 1. All doses of mGnRH and the two highest doses of lGnRH-III stimulated (P < 0.001) a non-selective release of LH and FSH. In Experiments 2–4, Latin Square designs were utilized in vivo to examine whether physiological and hormonal milieu regulate putative selective effects of lGnRH-III. In Experiments 2 and 3, ovariectomized cows with basal levels of estradiol only (Experiment 2) or in combination with luteal phase levels of progester-one (Experiment 3) were injected with mGnRH and lGnRH-III (0.055, 0.11, 0.165 and 1.1 μg/kg body weight (BW) and saline. All doses of mGnRH released (P < 0.001) LH and FSH, but only the highest dose of lGnRH-III stimulated (P < 0.001) a non-selective release of both LH and FSH (Experiment 3). For Experiments 4A and 4B, intact, mid-luteal phase cows were injected with mGnRH and lGnRH-III (1.1 μg/kg BW; Experiment 4A), lGnRH-III (1.1 and 4.4 μg/kg BW; Experiment 4B) and saline. As before, mGnRH released (P < 0.001) both LH and FSH at all doses. In contrast, lGnRH-III at the highest dose released (P < 0.001) LH but not FSH. These findings suggest that lGnRH-III may act as a weak competitor for the mGnRH receptor and do not support the hypothesis that it selectively releases FSH in cattle.