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M. S. Blank and H. G. Friesen

Summary. In rats that were allowed to eat the placentae after parturition concentrations of serum prolactin were elevated on Day 1 but concentrations of serum progesterone were depressed on Days 6 and 8 post partum when compared to those of rats prevented from eating the placentae. In rats treated with PMSG to induce superovulation serum prolactin and progesterone values were significantly (P < 0·05) elevated on Days 3 and 5 respectively, after being fed 2 g rat placenta/ day for 2 days. However, feeding each rat 4 g placenta/day significantly (P < 0·02) lowered serum progesterone on Day 5. Oestrogen injections or bovine or human placenta in the diet had no effect. The organic phase of a petroleum ether extract of rat placenta (2 g-equivalents/day) lowered peripheral concentrations of progesterone on Day 5, but other extracts were ineffective. We conclude that the rat placenta contains orally-active substance(s) which modify blood levels of pituitary and ovarian hormones.

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M. E. Wilson, T. P. Gordon, M. S. Blank and D. C. Collins

Summary. A comparison of the age and season at first parturition was made for spring-born female rhesus monkeys and for females born in the fall to mothers who had been laboratory-housed before being transferred outdoors. Females (N = 9) born during the fall had first parturition during the spring and summer, as did all spring-born females (N = 68), and not during the fall as would be predicted if age were the determining factor. A separate analysis of post-menarchial, spring-born females (N = 5) beginning in September at 29 months of age revealed that the ensuing 12 months were characterized by low serum levels of oestradiol (< 50 pg/ml), progesterone (< 1·0 ng/ml), LH (< 7·0 ng/ml), and FSH (< 5·50 μg/ml). First ovulation subsequently occurred in the fall in all subjects at a mean age of 41 ·9 ± 0·1 months, and was preceded by significant elevations in basal LH and FSH, coincident in time with the transition of summer to fall (September). Female copulatory behaviour was restricted to the period surrounding first ovulation, beginning some 2 weeks before and ceasing within 3 days after the oestradiol peak. The most rapid gain in weight occurred during the summer months before first ovulation, and was associated with significant elevations in serum GH and prolactin. These data suggest that season may influence the timing of sexual maturation in rhesus monkeys kept outside in such a way that the occurrence of first ovulation is restricted to the fall and winter months.