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B. J. McLeod, W. Haresign, A. R. Peters, and G. E. Lamming

Summary. Blood samples were taken at 15-min intervals from prepubertal beef heifers, 6 aged 4 months and 6 aged 10 months, to determine plasma LH and FSH concentrations. Two animals of each age group were then subjected to 9 consecutive injections of 0·5, 2·0 or 5·0 μg Gn-RH at 2-h intervals. LH episodes were evident in all animals before treatment, and in 11/12 heifers occurred at a rate of between 1 and 4 per 24 h. One 10-month old heifer, later detected in oestrus, displayed 10 episodes/24 h. Mean FSH concentrations did not differ significantly between age groups. In all animals, Gn-RH injections induced an episodic pattern of LH secretion which was significantly different between Gn-RH doses, but not between age groups. A distinct episode-like response in FSH concentrations occurred to each Gn-RH injection in only one heifer. These results provide further evidence that the prepubertal period is associated with a lack of pituitary stimulation, rather than an inability to respond to Gn-RH.

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B. J. McLeod, A. R. Peters, W. Haresign, and G. E. Lamming

Summary. Twelve 5-month-old Hereford × Friesian heifers were injected i.v. with 2·0 μg GnRH at 2-h intervals for 72 h. Blood samples were collected at 15-min intervals from 24 h before the start until 8 h after the end of the GnRH treatment period. Over the 24-h pretreatment period, mean LH concentrations ranged from 0·4 to 2·2 ng/ml and FSH concentrations from 14·1 to 157·4 ng/ml; LH episodes (2–6 episodes/24 h) were evident in all animals. Each injection of GnRH resulted in a distinct episode-like response in LH, but not FSH. Mean LH, but not FSH, concentrations were significantly increased by GnRH treatment. The GnRH-induced LH episodes were of greater magnitude than naturally-occurring episodes (mean maximum concentration 6·7 ± 0·5 and 4·9 ± 0·6 ng/ml respectively). Preovulatory LH surges occurred between 17·0 and 58·8 h after the start of treatment in 9/12 heifers, with a coincident FSH surge in 8 of these animals. This was not followed by normal luteal function. There were no apparent correlations between pretreatment hormone concentrations, and either the pituitary response to GnRH or the occurrence of preovulatory gonadotrophin release.

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S. E. Dodson, B. J. McLeod, W. Haresign, A. R. Peters, and G. E. Lamming

Summary. Twelve autumn-born Hereford × Friesian heifers were studied to characterize changes in the patterns of LH and FSH secretion occurring from birth through the peripubertal period. A once weekly blood sampling regimen, starting 3 days after birth, was combined with periods of frequent sampling (15-min intervals for 24 h) every month from 3 weeks of age.

Mean plasma LH concentrations decreased over the period from birth to 15 weeks of age, largely due to a decrease in basal LH concentrations. Thereafter, mean plasma LH concentrations increased to 39 weeks of age, mainly as a consequence of increasing LH episode frequency and LH episode amplitude.

Oestrus was detected using an oestradiol-treated steer, and ovulation inferred from progesterone profiles. A 'short luteal phase' oestrous cycle preceded the first observed oestrus, and this was followed in all heifers by a normal length luteal phase. However, no increase in mean LH concentrations, basal LH concentrations, LH episode frequency, LH episode amplitude or change in mean FSH concentration could be directly associated with the onset of puberty. It is therefore concluded that the gonadotrophic stimulus for first ovulation must occur abruptly.

Keywords: puberty; heifers; LH; FSH

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Percentages of cell types in the adenohypophysis were compared with the content of sth and prolactin at different reproductive stages (e.g. immature, oestrous cycle, pregnancy, lactation and after hysterectomy) in the pig. Acidophils represent sth and prolactin activities. Chromophobes are undifferentiated, inactive or depleted cells.

Acidophils represented half (53·5%) the cell population. Percentages of sth cells were higher in 17-day-old pigs than in mature animals. This is a period of rapid growth in the young pig. During the cycle, during pregnancy and after hysterectomy, the percentages of prolactin cells were higher than those found in immature or lactating pigs.

The chromophobes represented 13·1% of the cell population. Chromophobes were the predominant cell type during lactation, but these seemingly inactive cells may have been active acidophils that were synthesizing and secreting prolactin. By rapid turnover of hormone, the cytoplasmic granules in prolactin cells lack differentiation.

The sth activity was similar in pigs during pregnancy and lactation and after hysterectomy. There were no significant correlations in the percentages of sth cells and the concentration or content of sth during pregnancy and lactation. There was a trend of increased percentages of prolactin cells in later stages of pregnancy and after hysterectomy. Exogenous oestrogen caused a marked increase in the pituitary content of sth and prolactin in hysterectomized pigs as compared with uninjected hysterectomized animals. Prolactin levels remained relatively constant during pregnancy and after hysterectomy, but declined during lactation. Exogenous oestrogen caused a consistently higher trend in prolactin activity in hysterectomized animals.