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A study by Turker & Kiran (1969) revealed that single retrograde intraarterial (i.a.) injections of prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) did not produce a change in milk-ejection pressure in the lactating rabbit, but could inhibit the milk-ejection response to oxytocin. The minimal dose range of PGE1 required to produce an inhibition of milk-ejection pressure by oxytocin was 0·1 to 1 μg PGE1 i.a.

Halder, Maiweg & Grosvenor (1970) showed that PGE1 could abolish the milk-ejection activity of oxytocin in the rat.

A study by McNeilly & Fox (1971) indicated that PGE1, PGE2, PGF and PGF, all possessed inherent milk-ejection activity in the guinea-pig. They found that in no case did the i.a. injection of any of these four prostaglandins in amounts up to 30 μg cause any decrease

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Pituitaries of slaughtered sows were assayed for prolactin with the intradermal pigeon crop gland technique. Sows were classified into three groups—follicular, early postovulatory and luteal—after gross inspection of the ovaries. Pituitary prolactin was lowest in the postovulatory group (57·6±2·4 i.u.) and highest in the luteal group (87·0±12·9 i.u.). This study indicated that the pituitary prolactin content in the sow was comparable with that reported for dairy cows and refutes previous reports of small quantities present in the swine pituitary.

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T. E. Martin, D. M. Henricks, J. R. Hill Jr, and N. C. Rawlings

Summary. Six beef heifers were immunized over a 4-month period with an oestradiol-17β–BSA conjugate in Freund's adjuvant. There was an interference with oestrus in the treated heifers; 2 ceased to exhibit oestrus, one exhibited one oestrus and three exhibited oestrus after Day 47 of treatment. The control heifers treated with Freund's adjuvant had normal oestrous cycles. The antiserum titre rose in all treated heifers and attained its highest level in the 2 animals in which oestrus did not recur. The temporal changes in plasma LH, progesterone and oestradiol were normal during the pretreatment period, but became abnormal during the 120 days after immunization. Although plasma oestradiol-17β rose at the expected time of oestrus after treatment, it was apparently effectively neutralized by the antiserum induced by treatment as evidenced by the absence of an LH surge. Plasma progesterone levels fell to baseline and remained low, indicating lack of formation of corpora lutea.

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E Gómez, E Correia-Álvarez, J N Caamaño, C Díez, S Carrocera, N Peynot, D Martín, C Giraud-Delville, V Duranthon, O Sandra, and M Muñoz

Early in cow embryo development, hepatoma-derived growth factor (HDGF) is detectable in uterine fluid. The origin of HDGF in maternal tissues is unknown, as is the effect of the induction on developing embryos. Herein, we analyze HDGF expression in day 8 endometrium exposed to embryos, as well as the effects of recombinant HDGF (rHDGF) on embryo growth. Exposure to embryos did not alter endometrial levels of HDGF mRNA or protein. HDGF protein localized to cell nuclei in the luminal epithelium and superficial glands and to the apical cytoplasm in deep glands. After uterine passage, levels of embryonic HDGF mRNA decreased and HDGF protein was detected only in the trophectoderm. In fetal fibroblast cultures, addition of rHDGF promoted cell proliferation. In experiments with group cultures of morulae in protein-free medium containing polyvinyl alcohol, adding rHDGF inhibited blastocyst development and did not affect cell counts when the morulae were early (day 5), whereas it enhanced blastocyst development and increased cell counts when the morulae were compact (day 6). In cultures of individual day 6 morulae, adding rHDGF promoted blastocyst development and increased cell counts. Our experiments with rHDGF indicate that the growth factor stimulates embryonic development and cell proliferation. HDGF is synthesized similarly by the endometrium and embryo, and it may exert embryotropic effects by autocrine and/or paracrine mechanisms.

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M Gaytán, M A Sánchez, C Morales, C Bellido, Y Millán, J Martín de las Mulas, J E Sánchez-Criado, and F Gaytán

The ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) plays pivotal roles during ovulation and postovulatory wound repair. In this paper we describe the proliferative activity of the OSE through the estrous cycle in adult cycling rats, by immunohistochemical detection of DNA-incorporated bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU). Immunohistochemical detection of estrogen receptor α (ERα) and progesterone receptor was also performed. The cycle of the OSE consists of a proliferative phase (that lasts for two consecutive estrous cycles) and a quiescent phase of variable duration. Cyclic changes in the OSE were related to the underlying ovarian structure. OSE areas covering growing follicles entered into the proliferative phase during the transition from proestrus to estrus, with the appearance of fast-growing class 1 follicles, destined to ovulate at the end of the current estrous cycle. A labeling index (after pulse-labeling BrdU treatment) of about 7% was maintained throughout the estrous cycle in parallel to follicle growth. Cumulative BrdU-labeling (after daily BrdU treatment) indicated that about 1/3 of the total OSE cell proliferation was related to follicle growth. Following ovulation, OSE cells covering newly-formed corpora lutea showed a labeling index of about 50% that decreased through metestrus and diestrus (about 13% and 3%, respectively), returning to basal levels by proestrus. Cumulative BrdU-labeling indicated that about 2/3 of the total proliferative activity was related to ovulation repair/luteinization. The remaining OSE covering ovarian stroma or structurally regressing corpora lutea of previous cycles showed negligible BrdU labeling. The equivalent proliferative activity found in the OSE covering newly-formed corpora lutea in indomethacin-treated rats lacking rupture of the OSE at the apex, demonstrated that ovulation-triggered proliferation was not dependent on the loss of integrity of the OSE at the ovulation site. OSE cells expressed ERα throughout the cycle, but no differential expression was found between proliferating and quiescent OSE areas. On the contrary, OSE cells did not express PR at any time of the cycle. These data indicate the existence of a cycle of the OSE, related to the cyclic changes in the underlying ovarian structure and strongly suggest that the proliferative activity of the OSE is regulated by local microenvironmental rather than by systemic factors.

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Ana Gordon, José C Garrido-Gracia, Rafaela Aguilar, Silvia Guil-Luna, Yolanda Millán, Juana Martín de las Mulas, and José E Sánchez-Criado

Administration of human FSH (hFSH) to cyclic rats during the dioestrous phase attenuates progesterone receptor (PR)-dependent events of the preovulatory LH surge in pro-oestrus. The increased bioactivity of the putative ovarian gonadotropin surge inhibiting/attenuating factor induced by hFSH treatment is not associated with a decrease in PR protein expression, and the possibility of its association at a PR posttranslational effect has been raised. The present experiments aimed to analyse PR phosphorylation status in the gonadotrope of rats with impaired LH secretion induced by in vivo hFSH injection. Two experimental approaches were used. First, incubated pro-oestrous pituitaries from hFSH-injected cycling and oestrogen-treated ovariectomized (OVX) rats were used to analyze the effect of calyculin, an inhibitor of intracellular phosphatases, on PR-dependent LH release, which was measured in the incubation medium by RIA. Second, pituitaries taken from hFSH-injected intact cycling and OVX rats and later incubated with P or GNRH1 were used to assess the phosphorylation rate of gonadotrope. The latter was analysed in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections by immunohistochemistry using a MAB that recognizes the phosphorylated (p) form of PR at Ser294. Calyculin reduced the ovary-mediated inhibition of hFSH in GNRH1-stimulated LH secretion. In addition, the immunohistochemical expression of pSer294 PR was significantly reduced after ovarian stimulation with hFSH in pituitaries from pro-oestrous rats incubated with P or GNRH1. Altogether, these results suggested that the ovarian-dependent inhibitory effect of FSH injection on the preovulatory LH secretion in the rat may involve an increase in dephosphorylation of PR.

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P. Licht, T. Hayes, P. Tsai, G. Cunha, H. Kim, M. Golbus, S. Hayward, M. C. Martin, R. B. Jaffe, and S. E. Glickman

According to common understanding of sexual differentiation, the formation and development of a penile clitoris in female spotted hyaenas requires the presence of naturally circulating androgens during fetal life. The purpose of the present study was to determine potential source(s) of such fetal androgens by investigating the timing of urogenital development and placental production of androgen during early and mid-gestation. Fetuses determined to be female by molecular techniques (lack of SRY gene) at days 33 and 48 of gestation had undifferentiated gonads, but the clitoris was already 'masculinized' and was generally similar to the phallus of a 50-day-old male fetus. Wolffian and Müllerian ducts terminated at the urogenital sinus in both sexes and a urethra was present along the entire length of the clitoris and penis. The adrenal gland was large and histologically differentiated at 33 days. Steroid gradients across the uterus (a drop in Δ4-androstenedione, with increases in oestrogen and androgen), and high androstenedione in ovarian veins indicated that ovarian androstenedione was metabolized and secreted as testosterone by the placenta throughout gestation. In vitro, whole or homogenized placentae at days 48 and 58 of gestation (110 days total) metabolized radiolabelled androstenedione into testosterone and oestradiol; the specific enzymatic activity of early placental tissues was higher than at later stages. A human placental homogenate had higher aromatase activity but did not produce testosterone unless aromatase was inhibited. Infusion of labelled androstenedione into the uterine arteries of hyaenas demonstrated the conversion of this substrate into testosterone and oestradiol and their secretion into the fetal circulation. Evidently, androgen is produced by the placenta and secreted into the fetal circulation from early in pregnancy when masculinization is first evident, before differentiation of the fetal ovary.

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J. E. Norman, L. M. Ward, W. Martin, A. D. Cameron, J. C. McGrath, I. A. Greer, and I. T. Cameron

The purpose of this study was to determine the relaxant effects in vitro of two nitric oxide donors, glyceryl trinitrate and sodium nitroprusside, which are currently available for use in vivo, on contractions of non-labouring myometrium from pregnant women. Since nitric oxide also mediates relaxation by increasing the concentration of cGMP, sensitivity to 8-bromo-cGMP (a cGMP analogue) was also determined. The effects of the K+-channel opener lemakalim and of the Ca2+-channel blocker nifedipine were studied for comparison. After the addition of glyceryl trinitrate (0.1–100 μmol l−1), sodium nitroprusside (0.1–100 μmol l−1) or 8-bromo-cGMP (0.001–3 mmol l−1), the spontaneous rhythmic contractility of myometrial strips was inhibited in a concentrationdependent manner: the maximum inhibition produced by the highest tested concentration of each drug was 40 ± 7%, 53 ± 8% and 39 ± 8% of the original degree of contraction, respectively. Myometrial contractions were completely abolished by lemakalim and by nifedipine and verapamil at concentrations of ≥ 10−5 mol l−1. The nitric oxide donors, glyceryl trinitrate and sodium nitroprusside, attenuate myometrial contractions and are therefore useful as tocolytic agents. However, at equimolar concentrations in vitro, the ability of glyceryl trinitrate and sodium nitroprusside to attenuate myometrial contractions is less than that of lemakalin, nifedipine and verapamil. Controlled trials are required to determine the side-effects and clinical efficacy of each of these agents in vivo.

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K E Ryan, S M Casey, M J Canty, M A Crowe, F Martin, and A C O Evans

Dominant follicles are those that continue to develop and have the potential to ovulate while subordinate follicles regress. Characteristics of dominant follicles include a larger diameter, higher intrafollicular estradiol, and lower IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-4 concentrations compared with other cohort follicles. Follicle development is regulated by endocrine hormones that act via intracellular signaling pathways. Here, we show the differences in Akt, Erk, c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase, and p-38 signaling pathways between dominant and subordinate follicles at the dominance stage of the follicle wave. However, earlier in the follicle wave (dominant follicle selection), there were only differences in the levels of Akt and Erk signal transduction proteins among dominant and subordinate follicles. Using this profile of Akt and Erk protein expression in granulosa and theca cells of selected dominant follicles compared with subordinate follicles, we suggest a predictive model to identify future dominant and subordinate follicles from the pool of otherwise similar cohort follicles at the time of follicle wave emergence. We conclude that the Erk and Akt signal transduction pathways are important for dominant follicle selection and development and, furthermore, that the observed differences in these pathways mark the future dominant follicle from subordinate follicles before differences in follicular diameter, follicular fluid estradiol, and IGFBP-4 concentrations are apparent.

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Anthony D Horlock, Rachel L Piersanti, Rosabel Ramirez-Hernandez, Fahong Yu, Zhengxin Ma, KwangCheol C Jeong, Martin J D Clift, Jeremy Block, José E P Santos, John J Bromfield, and I Martin Sheldon

Infection of the postpartum uterus with pathogenic bacteria is associated with infertility months later in dairy cattle. However, it is unclear whether these bacterial infections lead to long-term changes in the reproductive tract that might help explain this infertility. Here we tested the hypothesis that infusion of pathogenic bacteria into the uterus leads to changes in the transcriptome of the reproductive tract 3 months later. We used virgin Holstein heifers to avoid potential confounding effects of periparturient problems, lactation, and negative energy balance. Animals were infused intrauterine with endometrial pathogenic bacteria Escherichia coli and Trueperella pyogenes (n = 4) and compared with control animals (n = 6). Three months after infusion, caruncular and intercaruncular endometrium, isthmus and ampulla of the oviduct, and granulosa cells from ovarian follicles >8 mm diameter were profiled by RNA sequencing. Bacterial infusion altered the transcriptome of all the tissues when compared with control. Most differentially expressed genes were tissue specific, with 109 differentially expressed genes unique to caruncular endometrium, 57 in intercaruncular endometrium, 65 in isthmus, 298 in ampulla, and 83 in granulosa cells. Surprisingly, despite infusing bacteria into the uterus, granulosa cells had more predicted upstream regulators of differentially expressed genes than all the other tissues combined. In conclusion, there were changes in the transcriptome of the endometrium, oviduct and even granulosa cells, 3 months after intrauterine infusion of pathogenic bacteria. These findings imply that long-term changes throughout the reproductive tract could contribute to infertility after bacterial infections of the uterus.