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P. L. Keyes, R. M. Possley, and K.-C. M. Yuh

Summary. On Day 10 of pseudopregnancy, rabbits were given an i.v. injection of hCG (10–20 i.u.) that was sufficient to cause new ovulations and the loss of follicular oestradiol secretion. There was an immediate 3–4-fold rise in serum progesterone which returned to near prestimulation values (∼ 27 ng/ml) within 12 h in the presence of an implant containing oestradiol-17β. In the absence of oestradiol, serum progesterone continued to decline to reach low values ( ∼ 4 ng/ml) within 24 h and the original corpora lutea subsequently regressed. The administration of oestradiol 24 h after injection of hCG, when progesterone secretion was low, arrested any further decline in progesterone and then restored serum progesterone to normal values. This steroidogenic effect of oestradiol in vivo was a function of enhanced luteal steroidogenesis; corpora lutea removed and incubated for 12 h produced progesterone at high, linear rates, whereas the corpora lutea from animals that did not receive oestradiol produced low or insignificant quantities of progesterone in vitro. We conclude that hCG at these doses is compatible with continued responsiveness of the corpora lutea to oestrogen and that hCG produces its luteolytic effect primarily by ovulating follicles, thus stopping the secretion of the luteotrophic hormone, oestradiol.

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K.-C. M. Yuh, R. M. Possley, R. K. Brabec, and P. L. Keyes

Summary. On the day after ovulation, the thecal tissue and associated mural granulosa lutein cells of the rabbit corpus luteum were separated from the granulosa lutein 'core' by dissection and these tissues were cultured separately or together (whole corpus luteum) in defined medium for 10 days on stainless-steel grids. The medium was changed completely every 24 h. Replicate tissues were cultured with testosterone (10 ng/ml), but no other hormones were added to the medium. Progesterone production increased during the first 2 days of culture for whole corpus luteum, granulosa lutein cells and the thecal compartment which also included granulosa lutein cells. After 3 days, the production of progesterone declined gradually, but was still detectable on Day 10. The production of the metabolite, 20α-dihydroprogesterone, by whole corpus luteum was equal to or greater than that of progesterone. Without the addition of testosterone, the granulosa lutein cells produced little (10 pg/culture) oestradiol during 1 day of culture, but the thecal compartment and whole corpus luteum each produced about 100 pg/culture on Day 1 and declining quantities over the next 2 days. In the presence of testosterone added to the medium, the formation of oestradiol was greatly increased for all tissues for 5–6 days of culture, after which time oestradiol was no longer detectable with or without testosterone in medium. Transmission electron microscopy of cells after 10–12 days of culture revealed fine structure that is characteristic of luteal cells, including abundant smooth endoplasmic reticulum, lipid droplets, and junctions between the luteal cells. The corpus luteum in culture resembles the corpus luteum in situ in that steroidogenesis and differentiation can proceed for a period after ovulation without extrinsic hormonal stimulation.