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K. K. Schillo, M. A. Green and S. H. Hayes

Summary. Finnish Landrace × Southdown ewes were ovariectomized (OVX) and subjected to daily photoperiods of 16L:8D (Group I) or 8L:16D (Group II) for 84 days. Ewes were then either adrenalectomized (ADX) (N = 5 for Group I; N = 4 for Group II) or sham ADX (N = 6 for Groups I + II). After surgery, ewes in Group I were subjected to 8L:16D for 91 days and 16L:8D for 91 days whereas ewes in Group II were exposed to 16L:8D for 91 days and 8L:16D for 91 days. Oestradiol implants were inserted into all ewes on Day 148. Sequential blood samples were taken at 28, 56, 91, 119, 147 and 168 days after surgery to determine secretory profiles of LH and prolactin. Photoperiod did not influence LH release in Group I in the absence of oestradiol. Although photoperiod influenced frequency and amplitude of LH pulses in Group II before oestradiol treatment, adrenalectomy did not prevent these changes in patterns of LH release. However, in Group II the increase in LH pulse amplitude during exposure to long days was greater (P < 0·01) in adrenalectomized ewes than in sham-operated ewes. Mean concentrations of LH increased in ADX ewes on Days 91 (P = 0·07) and 119 (P < 0·05). Adrenalectomy failed to influence photoperiod-induced changes in mean concentrations of LH, amplitude of LH pulses and frequency of LH pulses in the presence of oestradiol. Concentrations of prolactin were influenced by photoperiod. In Groups I and II concentrations of prolactin increased (P < 0·01) after adrenalectomy, but the magnitude of this effect decreased over time. These results suggest that the effects of photoperiod on patterns of LH release are mediated in part by a mechanism that is not dependent on sex steroids and that the adrenal may influence release of prolactin.

Keywords: photoperiod; LH; prolactin; adrenalectomy; sheep

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C. Y. Lee, M. L. Green, R. C. M. Simmen and F. A. Simmen

Pig conceptuses undergo morphological development from spherical to filamentous forms during days 10 to 12 of pregnancy, coincident with a high content of mRNAs encoding insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I in the uterine endometrium and secretion of IGF-I into the uterine lumen. The potential regulation by developing conceptuses of the bioavailability of IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs) within the uterine microenvironment was investigated. Uterine luminal flushings (ULFs) were obtained between days 10 and 18 of pregnancy and the presence of specific IGFBPs was detected by ligand blot analysis. ULFs collected at days 10 and 11 of pregnancy contained 46 and 43 kDa IGFBP-3, several IGFBPs of about 30 kDa including IGFBP-2, and an unidentified 26 kDa IGFBP; IGFBP-3 was the most abundant. By day 12, however, IGFBPs were substantially diminished or undetectable. Examination of the morphology of flushed conceptuses revealed that the loss of IGFBPs in ULF was associated with the transition from spherical to filamentous morphology. The abundance of IGFBP-3 mRNA in uterine endometrium, as monitored by blot-hybridization, was not altered in a similar way, suggesting that lack of IGFBP-3 in 'filamentous' ULF resulted from proteolysis rather than from decreased expression of the IGFBP-3 gene. Consistent with this, incubation of 'spherical' ULF with or without added 'filamentous' ULF at 37°C resulted in the disappearance of endogenous IGFBP-3 only in 'spherical + filamentous' ULF. The protease activity in 'filamentous' ULF was inhibited by EDTA, but unlike matrix metalloproteinases, was not zinc ion-dependent or inhibited by 1,10-phenanthroline. Moreover, this activity was partially inhibited by the serine protease inhibitor aprotinin, but not by 4-(2-aminoethyl)-benzenesulfonyl fluoride (AEBSF), a known inhibitor of plasmin. The IGFBP protease activity of ULF may therefore comprise a group of enzymes including an unidentified serine protease. The results suggest that elongating pig conceptuses induce IGFBP protease activity which may increase the intrauterine bioavailability of IGF.

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Rhianna M Wallace, Ky G Pohler, Michael F Smith and Jonathan A Green

Pregnancy-associated glycoproteins (PAGs) are abundantly expressed products of the placenta of species within the Cetartiodactyla order (even-toed ungulates). They are restricted to this order and they are particularly numerous in the Bovidae. The PAGs exhibit a range of temporal and spatial expression patterns by the placental trophoblasts and probably represent a group of related proteins that perform a range of distinct functions in the epitheliochorial and synepitheliochorial placental forms. This review presents an overview of the origins of the PAGs, a summary of PAG expression patterns, and their use as markers of pregnancy status. Speculations about their putative role(s) in pregnancy are also presented.