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A. M. Turzillo, J. A. Clapper, G. E. Moss, and T. M. Nett

The objective of this study was to determine whether progesterone prevents the stimulatory effects of oestradiol on GnRH receptor gene expression. In Expt 1, ewes were treated during the luteal phase (days 10–12 of the oestrous cycle) with either one or five subcutaneous implants containing oestradiol (n = 6 per group). Control ewes received no treatment (n = 6). Anterior pituitary glands were collected 16 h after treatment with oestradiol. Steady-state amounts of GnRH receptor mRNA were similar among all three treatment groups despite increased circulating concentrations of oestradiol in implanted ewes at the time of pituitary collection (4.3 ± 0.6 and 24.7 ± 2.6 pg ml−1 in ewes treated with one or five implants, respectively, compared with 0.5 pg ml−1 in controls). Experiment 2 was designed to determine whether progesterone was the ovarian factor preventing the stimulatory effects of oestradiol on expression of the GnRH receptor gene in Expt 1. Twenty-five ewes were ovariectomized on day 6 or day 7 of the oestrous cycle and assigned to one of five treatment groups (n = 5 per group). Control ewes received no further treatment. Endogenous luteal phase concentrations of progesterone were replaced in three groups of ewes at the time of ovariectomy via intravaginal implants. Three days after ovariectomy, one group of progesterone-treated ewes received one oestradiol implant, while another group of progesterone-treated ewes received five oestradiol implants. An additional group was treated with five oestradiol implants only, and anterior pituitary glands were collected from all ewes 16 h later. Compared with untreated ovariectomized ewes, treatment with progesterone alone did not affect amounts of GnRH receptor mRNA. In ewes treated with progesterone and either one or five oestradiol implants, steady-state amounts of GnRH receptor mRNA were increased twofold (P < 0.01). Treatment with oestradiol in the absence of progesterone increased amounts of GnRH receptor mRNA threefold (P < 0.001). These results provide evidence that the stimulatory effects of oestradiol on the expression of the GnRH receptor gene are prevented during the natural luteal phase in ewes. However, progesterone does not appear to act independently to mediate this effect.

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Jennifer J Henderson, Peter E Hartmann, Timothy J M Moss, Dorota A Doherty, and John P Newnham

Antenatal glucocorticoids are administered to women at risk of preterm delivery to prevent neonatal respiratory morbidity. The effects of exogenous glucocorticoids on the development of lactation are unknown. This study investigated the effects of a single dose of antenatal glucocorticoids on secretory activation in sheep before and after parturition. Pregnant ewes (N=36) were randomised to receive either medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) at 118 days of pregnancy and betamethasone at 125 days (BETA group), MPA at 118 days and saline at 125 days (MPA group) or saline at 118 and 125 days (SALINE group). The concentration of lactose, progesterone, cortisol and prolactin in maternal plasma was measured during pregnancy. After term parturition, the concentration of lactose in milk and maternal plasma was measured daily for 5 days. Lambs were weighed at birth and at 5 days of age; milk volume was measured on day 5. The concentration of lactose in maternal plasma increased significantly after betamethasone administration, corresponding to a fall in plasma progesterone. No changes in lactose were observed in MPA or SALINE ewes. Transient decreases in cortisol and increases in prolactin were observed in the BETA group, but not in either the MPA or SALINE group. After parturition, BETA ewes experienced reduced milk yield and lamb weight gain, and delayed increases in milk lactose levels compared with MPA and saline controls. This study demonstrated that, in sheep, antenatal glucocorticoid administration disrupted secretory activation, causing precocious mammary secretion before parturition and compromising postpartum milk production and lamb growth.

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D. L. Cook, J. R. Parfet, C. A. Smith, G. E. Moss, R. S. Youngquist, and H. A. Garverick

Summary. Two experiments were conducted to (1) investigate developmental endocrinology of ovarian follicular cysts (cysts) in cattle and (2) evaluate effects of cysts on hypothalamic and hypophysial characteristics. Cysts were induced with oestradiol-17β (15 mg) and progesterone (37·5 mg) dissolved in alcohol and injected s.c. twice daily for 7 days. Cysts were defined as the presence of follicular structures (which may or may not have been the same structure) of 2·0 cm in diameter or greater that were present for 10 days without ovulation and corpus luteum development.

In Exp. 1, 22 non-lactating, non-pregnant Holstein cows were allocated to 3 groups. Beginning on Day 5 (oestrus = Day 0) of the oestrous cycle, 7 cows (Controls) were treated with twice daily s.c. injections of ethanol (2 ml/injection) for 7 days. Luteolysis was then induced with PGF-2α and blood samples were collected daily every 15 min for 6 h from the morning after the PGF-2α injection (Day 13) until oestrus. Steroids to induce cysts were injected as previously described into the remaining cows (N = 15). Three blood samples were collected at 15-min intervals every 12 h throughout the experimental period. Additional blood samples were collected every 15 min for 6 h on a twice weekly basis. After steroid injections, follicular and luteal structures on ovaries were not detected via rectal palpation for a period of 36 ± 4 days (static phase). Then follicles developed which ovulated within 3–7 days (non-cystic; N = 7) or increased in size with follicular structures present for 10 days (cystic; N = 8). Mean (± s.e.m.) concentrations of LH, FSH, oestradiol-17β and progesterone in serum remained low and were not different during the static phase between cows that subsequently developed cysts or ovulated. During the follicular phase, mean serum concentration of LH (ng/ml) was higher (P < 0·1) in cows with cysts (2·9 ± 0·2) than in cows without cysts (1·1 ± 0·1) or control cows (1·4 ± 0·2). In addition, LH pulse frequency (pulses/6 h) and amplitude (ng/ml) were higher (P < 0·1) in cows with cysts (3·6 ± 0·3 and 2·2 ± 0·3, respectively) than in non-cystic (2·3 ± 0·2 and 1·0 ± 0·2, respectively) and control (1·8 ± 0·1 and 1·1 ± 0·2, respectively) groups during the follicular phase.

In Exp. 2, 20 non-lactating, non-pregnant dairy cows were used: 15 cows received exogenous steroids as previously described. Hypothalamic and hypophysial tissues were collected after diagnosis of cystic structures in 11 cows (cystic group). The remaining 4 cows in the steroid-treated group ovulated and were assigned to the control group in addition to 5 non-steroid treated cows. Hypothalamic and hypophysial tissues were collected during the late-luteal phase (Days 16–18) from these control cows (N = 9). Anterior pituitary concentrations (μg/g) of LH (60·5 ± 11·0, 44·6 ± 11·7), FSH (30·2 ± 4·0, 22·1 ± 4·6) and receptors for GnRH (17·2 ± 2·2, 23·4 ± 2·6 m × 10−10/mg protein) did not differ between cows with cysts and control cows, respectively. Content of GnRH (ng) in the combined preoptic area and hypothalamus proper was higher (P < 0·05) in control cows (37·7 ± 6·6) than cows with cysts (18·6 ± 6·1). In the pituitary stalk median eminence, GnRH content (ng) tended to be higher (P ≥ 0·1) in cows with cysts (38·5 ± 9·6) compared with control (21·1 ± 15·2) cows.

Secretory patterns (mean concentration, pulse frequency and amplitude) of LH were therefore increased during the follicular phase in cows which developed cysts compared to cows which subsequently ovulated. In addition, hypothalamic GnRH content, but not pituitary characteristics, appeared to be altered in cows with cysts.

Keywords: ovary; follicular cysts; dairy cattle; gonadotrophins; hypothalamus; pituitary

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R. J. Wordinger, A. E. Moss, T. Lockard, D. Gray, I-F. C. Chang, and T. L. Jackson

Summary. Uterine samples were either rapidly frozen in liquid nitrogen or placed in Bouin's fixative. A commercial primary polyclonal antibody made in rabbits against human recombinant basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) was used. Western blot analysis indicated that the antibody was specific for bFGF and did not react with acidic FGF. The primary antibody was followed by either goat anti-rabbit immunoglobulin G (IgG) conjugated to the fluorescent phycobiliprotein tracer phycoerythrin or biotinylated goat anti-rabbit IgG and a biotin–avidin–peroxidase complex. Specificity controls using adjacent sections were carried out by (i) substituting normal rabbit sera for the primary antisera, (ii) omitting the primary antisera or (iii) extracting sections with NaCl (2 mol l−1) prior to the immunochemical procedures. No binding of the antibody was observed with any of the specificity control sections. The connective tissue stroma and the basal lamina associated with uterine glandular and surface epithelial layers were positive for bFGF. Localization was not observed within surface or glandular epithelial cells. The basal lamina and endothelial cells associated with blood vessels within the uterus and the smooth muscle cells of the myometrium were positive for bFGF. There were no differences in uterine localization patterns or intensity during the oestrous cycle or after ovariectomy and steroid hormone supplementation. These studies demonstrate the specific localization of bFGF within the mouse uterus.

Keywords: basic fibroblast growth factor; mouse

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J. L. Juengel, M. H. Melner, J. A. Clapper, A. M. Turzillo, G. E. Moss, T. M. Nett, and G. D. Niswender

Prostaglandin F (PGF) decreases secretion of progesterone from the corpus luteum in domestic ruminants. However, it is less effective during the early part of the oestrous cycle (Louis et al., 1973) and at the time of maternal recognition of pregnancy (Silvia and Niswender, 1984; Lacroix and Kann, 1986). Decreased luteal responsiveness may be due to failure of PGF to activate fully its normal second messenger system, protein kinase C (PKC). Alternatively, increased resistance of the corpus luteum to PGF might be attributable to greater concentrations of recently identified biological inhibitors of PKC. These possibilities were addressed by measuring steady-state concentrations of mRNA encoding PGF receptor and two inhibitors of PKC, protein kinase C inhibitor-1 (PKCI-1) and kinase C inhibitor protein-1 (KCIP-1, brain 14-3-3 protein), in corpora lutea collected from ewes on days 4, 10 and 15 of the oestrous cycle (n = 5 per day) and day 15 of pregnancy (n = 7). There were no differences in mean concentrations of mRNA encoding PGF receptor among the groups. However, concentrations of mRNA encoding both inhibitors of PKC were higher (P < 0.01) on day 4 of the oestrous cycle compared with the other groups. Treatment of ewes with a luteolytic dose of PGF, which activates PKC, did not change concentrations of mRNA encoding either PKCI-1 or KCIP-I up to 24 h later. Luteal expression of mRNA encoding the PKC inhibitors and PGF receptor was also examined in ewes treated with oestradiol in vivo for 16 h in the midluteal phase. High concentrations of oestradiol in serum (20 and 70 pg ml−1) did not influence quantities of any of the mRNAs examined. Therefore, an increase in PKC inhibitors may be involved in resistance of the corpus luteum to PGF during the early part of the oestrous cycle but does not appear to mediate the increased resistance of the corpus luteum to PGF during maternal recognition of pregnancy. Neither PGF nor oestradiol affected steady-state concentrations of mRNAs encoding PKCI-1 or KCIP-I.