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T. P. Fletcher, A. E. Jetton and M. B. Renfree

Summary. Forty tammar wallabies, presumed to be carrying quiescent blastocysts, were injected with progesterone and oestradiol alone, or in combination, during seasonal quiescence when the corpus luteum is inactive. Plasma progesterone concentrations were increased to values equivalent to those of late pregnancy for the duration of the treatment in progesterone-treated groups but otherwise remained at values equivalent to seasonal quiescence. Tammars treated with low doses of oestradiol showed no measurable increase in plasma oestradiol concentrations but in those treated with high doses plasma concentrations were increased to oestrous levels. At autopsy on Day 18 after the start of treatment the embryos and reproductive tracts were assessed. While progesterone alone caused reactivation of about 50% of the embryos, blastocysts in tammars treated with oestradiol alone remained in diapause (low dose) or disappeared from the uterus (high dose): 2 blastocysts collapsed after some slight expansion. No synergistic effect on pregnancy was noted in tammars receiving both oestradiol and progesterone. We conclude that oestrogen alone is not capable of stimulating normal growth of blastocysts, and its role during early pregnancy in tammars remains unclear.

Keywords: progesterone; oestradiol-17β blastocyst; seasonal diapause; marsupial