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A Honaramooz
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RK Chandolia
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AP Beard
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NC Rawlings
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Studies have shown inhibitory effects of endogenous opioids on LH secretion in early post-natal heifers. However, it is not clear whether these effects change during the rest of the prepubertal period or whether the inhibitory influences on the GnRH neurones are direct or by way of other neuronal systems. Two experiments were performed in heifer calves to study the developmental patterns of opioidergic, dopaminergic and adrenergic regulation of LH and the possible interactions between opioids and dopaminergic and adrenergic neuronal systems, in the regulation of LH secretion. In Expt 1 four groups each of five heifer calves were used. Blood samples were taken every 15 min for 10 h and each calf received one of the following treatments as a single injection at 4, 14, 24, 36 and 48 weeks of age: (i) naloxone (opioid antagonist, 1 mg kg(-1), i. v.); (ii) sulpiride (dopamine D2 antagonist, 0.59 mg kg(-1), s.c.); (iii) naloxone and sulpiride combined; or (iv) vehicle (control group). Treatments began after the first blood sample was taken. The design of Expt 2 was similar; a separate group of heifer calves was assigned to receive one of the following treatments as a single injection at 4, 14, 24, 36 and 48 weeks of age: (i) naloxone; (ii) phenoxybenzamine (an alpha-adrenoreceptor blocker, 0.8 mg kg(-1), i. v.); (iii) naloxone and phenoxybenzamine; (iv) or vehicle. Results from Expt 1 showed that the maximum concentration of LH and the number of calves responding to treatments with an LH pulse was higher in the first hour after treatments at 36 and 48 weeks of age in the naloxone group compared with the control or sulpiride groups (P < 0.05). These values in the naloxone group also increased over time and were greatest at 48 weeks of age (P < 0.05). In heifers given naloxone + sulpiride treatment at 36 and 48 weeks of age, maximum concentrations of LH in the first hour after treatment did not differ from the naloxone and control groups. In Expt 2, at 36 and 48 weeks of age, treatment with naloxone with or without phenoxybenzamine resulted in higher concentrations of LH than in the controls (P < 0.05). No pulses were seen over the first hour of treatment at 36 and 48 weeks of age in heifers treated with phenoxybenzamine. The 10 h periods of blood sampling at 48 weeks of age revealed that phenoxybenzamine alone suppressed LH pulse frequency and mean serum concentrations of LH compared with the control group (P < 0.05). It was concluded that a strong or more acute inhibition of LH secretion by endogenous opioids developed in mid- to late prepubertal heifers, or alternatively, that removal of opioidergic inhibition at the GnRH neurone unmasked stimulatory inputs that were greater in heifers close to first ovulation. Since sulpiride appeared to negate in part the effects of naloxone on LH release, the suppressive effects of opioids could be exerted in part through the inhibition or blocking of a stimulatory dopaminergic system. alpha-Adrenergic neuronal systems have stimulatory effects on LH release, especially during the late prepubertal period, but do not appear to mediate opioidergic inhibition of LH secretion in prepubertal heifer calves.

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R. K. Chandolia
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A. Honaramooz
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P. M. Bartlewski
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A. P. Beard
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N. C. Rawlings
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Between 6 and 20 weeks of age an early increase in LH secretion has been reported in Hereford bull calves. Delaying this early increase in LH secretion delays testicular development. This study was designed to determine whether a premature increase in LH secretion during the early postnatal period enhances testicular development. Ten age- and body weight-matched Hereford bull calves were divided into two groups. One group (n = 5) received 200 ng LH releasing hormone (LHRH) i.v. every 2 h for 14 days, between 4 and 6 weeks of age. On the basis of blood samples taken every 15 min for 10 h, mean serum LH and testosterone concentrations and LH pulse frequency were increased by LHRH treatment (P < 0.05). Serum concentrations of FSH were not significantly influenced by treatment (P >0.05). In treated animals at 24 weeks of age, mean serum testosterone concentrations and LH pulse amplitude were increased (P <0.05). The concentrations of spermatozoa in electroejeculates collected at 52 weeks of age were greater in LHRH-treated compared with control calves. Testicular growth was enhanced by LHRH treatment and histological evaluation of the testis at 54 weeks of age showed increased spermatogenesis and also larger numbers of Sertoli cells per tubule cross-section as a result of LHRH treatment. We conclude that treatment with LHRH before the early increase in LH secretion altered testicular development and suggest that the early increase in LH secretion in bull calves may be critical for initiating and regulating the progression of reproductive maturation.

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A. P. Beard
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P. M. Bartlewski
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R. K. Chandolia
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A. Honaramooz
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N. C. Rawlings
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There is controversy over the potential endocrine modulating influence of pesticides, particularly during sensitive phases of development. In this study, ram lambs were exposed to lindane and pentachlorophenol from conception to necropsy at 28 weeks of age. The rams (and their mothers) were given untreated feed (n = 7) or feed treated with 1 mg kg−1 body weight per day of lindane (n = 12) or pentachlorophenol (n = 5). Semen was collected from 19 weeks onwards and reproductive behaviour was tested at 26 weeks. Serum was collected every 2 weeks and at 27 weeks every 15 min for 6 h during both day and night, and for 1 h before and 5 h after stimulation with GnRH, adrenocorticotrophic hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone. The pesticides did not affect body weight and ejaculate characteristics, or cause overt toxicity. In pentachlorophenol-treated rams, scrotal circumference was increased. However, seminiferous tubule atrophy was more severe and epididymal sperm density was reduced in comparison with untreated rams at necropsy (P < 0.05). Thyroxine concentrations were lower in pentachlorophenol-treated rams than in untreated rams (P < 0.05). However, after thyroid-stimulating hormone treatment, the thyroxine response was unaltered. Reproductive behaviour was reduced in lindane-treated rams compared with control rams (P < 0.05). Serum LH and oestradiol concentrations during reproductive development, LH pulse frequency at 27 weeks and testosterone secretion after GnRH treatment were lower in lindane-treated rams than in untreated rams (P < 0.05). In summary, the effects of pentachlorophenol on the testis may be linked to a decrease in thyroxine concentrations, and reduced reproductive behaviour in lindane-treated rams may be related to decreased LH, oestradiol and testosterone concentrations.

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JP Aravindakshan
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A Honaramooz
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PM Bartlewski
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AP Beard
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RR Pierson
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NC Rawlings
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The reproductive development of bull calves born in spring and autumn was compared. Mean serum LH concentrations in calves born in spring increased from week 4 to week 18 after birth and decreased by week 24. In bull calves born in autumn, mean LH concentrations increased from week 4 to week 8 after birth and remained steady until week 44. LH pulse amplitude was lower in bull calves born in autumn than in calves born in spring until week 24 of age (P < 0.05). There was a negative correlation between LH pulse frequency at week 12 after birth and age at puberty in bull calves, irrespective of season of birth, and LH pulse frequency at week 18 also tended to correlate negatively with age at puberty. Mean serum FSH concentrations, age at puberty, bodyweight, scrotal circumference, testes, prostate and vesicular gland dimensions, and ultrasonographic grey scale (pixel units) were not significantly different between bull calves born in autumn and spring. However, age and body-weight at puberty were more variable for bull calves born in autumn (P < 0.05). In a second study, bull calves born in spring received either a melatonin or sham implant immediately after birth and at weeks 6 and 11 after birth. Implants were removed at week 20. Mean LH concentrations, LH pulse frequency and amplitude, mean FSH concentrations and age at puberty did not differ between the two groups. No significant differences between groups in the growth and pixel units of the reproductive tract were observed by ultrasonography. In conclusion, although there were differences in the pattern of LH secretion in the prepubertal period between bull calves born in autumn and spring, the postnatal changes in gonadotrophin secretion were not disrupted by melatonin treatment in bull calves born in spring. Reproductive tract development did not differ between calves born in spring and autumn but age at puberty was more variable in bull calves born in autumn. LH pulse frequency during the early prepubertal period may be a vital factor in determining the age of bull calves at puberty.

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R Rathi Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348, USA and Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5B4

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A Honaramooz Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348, USA and Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5B4

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W Zeng Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348, USA and Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5B4

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R Turner Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348, USA and Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5B4

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I Dobrinski Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348, USA and Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5B4

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Grafting of testis tissue from immature animals to immunodeficient mice results in complete spermatogenesis, albeit with varying efficiency in different species. The objectives of this study were to investigate if grafting of horse testis tissue would result in spermatogenesis, and to assess the effect of exogenous gonadotropins on xenograft development. Small fragments of testis tissue from 7 colts (2 week to 4 years of age) were grafted under the back skin of castrated male immunodeficient mice. For 2 donor animals, half of the mice were treated with gonadotropins. Xenografts were analyzed at 4 and 8 months post-transplantation. Spermatogenic differentiation following grafting ranged from no differentiation to progression through meiosis with appearance of haploid cells. Administration of exogenous gonadotropins appeared to support post-meiotic differentiation. For more mature donor testis samples where spermatogenesis had progressed into or through meiosis, after grafting an initial loss of differentiated germ cells was observed followed by a resurgence of spermatogenesis. However, if haploid cells had been present prior to grafting, spermatogenesis did not progress beyond meiotic division. In all host mice with spermatogenic differentiation in grafts, increased weight of the seminal vesicles compared to castrated mice showed that xenografts were releasing testosterone. These results indicate that horse spermatogenesis occurs in a mouse host albeit with low efficiency. In most cases, spermatogenesis arrested at meiosis. The underlying mechanisms of this spermatogenic arrest require further investigation.

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P. M. Bartlewski
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A. P. Beard
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S. J. Cook
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R. K. Chandolia
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A. Honaramooz
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N. C. Rawlings
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Transrectal ultrasonography of ovaries was performed each day in non-prolific Western white-faced (n = 12) and prolific Finn ewes (n = 7), during one oestrous cycle in the middle portion of the breeding season (October–December), to record the number and size of all follicles ± 3 mm in diameter. Blood samples collected once a day were analysed by radioimmunoassay for concentrations of LH, FSH and oestradiol. A cycle-detection computer program was used to identify transient increases in concentrations of FSH and oestradiol in individual ewes. Follicular and hormonal data were then analysed for associations between different stages of the lifespan of the largest follicles of follicular waves, and detected fluctuations in serum concentrations of FSH and oestradiol. A follicular wave was defined as a follicle or a group of follicles that began to grow from 3 to ± 5 mm in diameter within a 48 h period. An average of four follicular waves per ewe emerged during the interovulatory interval in both breeds of sheep studied. The last follicular wave of the oestrous cycle contained ovulatory follicles in all ewes, and the penultimate wave contained ovulatory follicles in 10% of white-faced ewes but in 57% of Finn ewes. Transient increases in serum concentrations of FSH were detected in all animals and concentrations reached peak values on days that approximated to follicle wave emergence. Follicular wave emergence was associated with the onset of transient increases in serum concentrations of oestradiol, and the end of the growth phase of the largest follicles (≥ 5 mm in diameter) was associated with peak serum concentrations of oestradiol. Serum FSH concentrations were higher in Finn than in Western white-faced ewes during the follicular phase of the cycle (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences in serum concentrations of LH between Western white-faced and Finn ewes (P > 0.05). Mean serum concentrations of oestradiol were higher in Finn compared with Western white-faced ewes (P < 0.01). It was concluded that follicular waves (follicles growing from 3 to ≥5 mm in diameter) occurred in both prolific and non-prolific genotypes of ewes and were closely associated with increased secretion of FSH and oestradiol. The increased ovulation rate in prolific Finn ewes appeared to be due primarily to an extended period of ovulatory follicle recruitment.

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