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R. K. Chandolia
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A. C. O. Evans
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N. C. Rawlings
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In bull calves serum concentrations of LH, FSH, and to a lesser extent testosterone, are increased transiently, between 6 and 20 weeks of age. The function of gonadotrophin and testosterone secretion in this period of growth and development was tested by injecting five Hereford bull calves with a GnRH agonist (15 mg Leuprolide acetate) i.m. at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age; five vehicle treated calves acted as controls. On the basis of blood samples taken every 15 min for 10 h, at 12 weeks of age, mean serum concentrations of LH, FSH and testosterone and LH and FSH pulse frequency and amplitude were decreased (P < 0.05) by Leuprolide acetate. At 24 weeks of age, mean serum concentrations of LH, and LH and FSH pulse frequency in Leuprolide acetate treated calves exceeded (P < 0.05) that seen in control calves. On the basis of blood samples taken every other week, treatment with Leuprolide acetate decreased mean serum concentrations of FSH and testosterone at 14, 16 and 18 weeks of age compared with control calves and delayed the peak of the early increase in LH secretion from 20 to 24 weeks of age (P < 0.05). Scrotal circumference between 22 and 50 weeks of age, pixel units from ultrasound images of the testes, testis mass at castration at 50 weeks of age, and numbers of spermatids and pachytene spermatocytes were all lower in Leuprolide treated calves than in controls. A transient increase in secretion of LH, FSH and testosterone in young bull calves before 20 weeks of age may, therefore, be a critical step in the initiation and timing of testicular development in bull calves.

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R. K. Chandolia
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A. Honaramooz
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P. M. Bartlewski
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A. P. Beard
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N. C. Rawlings
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Between 6 and 20 weeks of age an early increase in LH secretion has been reported in Hereford bull calves. Delaying this early increase in LH secretion delays testicular development. This study was designed to determine whether a premature increase in LH secretion during the early postnatal period enhances testicular development. Ten age- and body weight-matched Hereford bull calves were divided into two groups. One group (n = 5) received 200 ng LH releasing hormone (LHRH) i.v. every 2 h for 14 days, between 4 and 6 weeks of age. On the basis of blood samples taken every 15 min for 10 h, mean serum LH and testosterone concentrations and LH pulse frequency were increased by LHRH treatment (P < 0.05). Serum concentrations of FSH were not significantly influenced by treatment (P >0.05). In treated animals at 24 weeks of age, mean serum testosterone concentrations and LH pulse amplitude were increased (P <0.05). The concentrations of spermatozoa in electroejeculates collected at 52 weeks of age were greater in LHRH-treated compared with control calves. Testicular growth was enhanced by LHRH treatment and histological evaluation of the testis at 54 weeks of age showed increased spermatogenesis and also larger numbers of Sertoli cells per tubule cross-section as a result of LHRH treatment. We conclude that treatment with LHRH before the early increase in LH secretion altered testicular development and suggest that the early increase in LH secretion in bull calves may be critical for initiating and regulating the progression of reproductive maturation.

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R. K. Chandolia
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G. F. Weinbauer
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U. Fingscheidt
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J. M. S. Bartlett
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E. Nieschlag
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Summary. The effects of combined treatment with an antagonist of gonadotrophinreleasing hormone (ANT) and the antiandrogen flutamide (FL) on spermatogenesis were studied in the presence and absence of exogenous follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). After treatment for 2 weeks, the combination of ANT (RS 68439, 450–500 μg/kg per day, s.c.) with 10, 20 or 40 mg FL/day, s.c. was as effective as ANT plus the Leydig cell toxin ethane dimethane sulphonate (75 mg/kg per week, i.p.) in terms of reduction in weight of testes, epididymides and seminal vesicles. Thus, a daily dose of 10 mg FL/kg was sufficient to block the androgen action in the testes of ANT-treated rats. In a second experiment, rats received ANT and ANT + FL (10 mg/kg) alone or in combination with a highly purified human FSH preparation (5 or 10 iu, twice a day) for 2 weeks. FSH did not affect testosterone concentration or weight of epididymides and seminal vesicles, but ANT+FL markedly enhanced the ANT-induced reduction of testis weight, seminiferous tubule diameter and numbers of germ cells, as revealed by qualitative and quantitative analysis of testis histology. In the absence of FL, testis size and numbers of germ cells, including elongated spermatids, were increased by FSH. In the presence of FL, the effects of FSH were less pronounced with respect to the germ cells, in terms of both numbers of cells and the effective dose of FSH. Irrespective of treatment with FL, exogenous FSH increased the inhibin concentrations in serum, indicating that Sertoli cells remained responsive to FSH. From the present study it is concluded that (i) FL accelerates ANT-induced testicular involution, (ii) FSH has a role in adult spermatogenesis and (iii) the effects of FSH on advanced germ cells are influenced by androgens.

Keywords: FSH; spermatogenesis; GnRH antagonist; antiandrogen; rat

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A. P. Beard
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P. M. Bartlewski
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R. K. Chandolia
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A. Honaramooz
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N. C. Rawlings
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There is controversy over the potential endocrine modulating influence of pesticides, particularly during sensitive phases of development. In this study, ram lambs were exposed to lindane and pentachlorophenol from conception to necropsy at 28 weeks of age. The rams (and their mothers) were given untreated feed (n = 7) or feed treated with 1 mg kg−1 body weight per day of lindane (n = 12) or pentachlorophenol (n = 5). Semen was collected from 19 weeks onwards and reproductive behaviour was tested at 26 weeks. Serum was collected every 2 weeks and at 27 weeks every 15 min for 6 h during both day and night, and for 1 h before and 5 h after stimulation with GnRH, adrenocorticotrophic hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone. The pesticides did not affect body weight and ejaculate characteristics, or cause overt toxicity. In pentachlorophenol-treated rams, scrotal circumference was increased. However, seminiferous tubule atrophy was more severe and epididymal sperm density was reduced in comparison with untreated rams at necropsy (P < 0.05). Thyroxine concentrations were lower in pentachlorophenol-treated rams than in untreated rams (P < 0.05). However, after thyroid-stimulating hormone treatment, the thyroxine response was unaltered. Reproductive behaviour was reduced in lindane-treated rams compared with control rams (P < 0.05). Serum LH and oestradiol concentrations during reproductive development, LH pulse frequency at 27 weeks and testosterone secretion after GnRH treatment were lower in lindane-treated rams than in untreated rams (P < 0.05). In summary, the effects of pentachlorophenol on the testis may be linked to a decrease in thyroxine concentrations, and reduced reproductive behaviour in lindane-treated rams may be related to decreased LH, oestradiol and testosterone concentrations.

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P. M. Bartlewski
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A. P. Beard
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S. J. Cook
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R. K. Chandolia
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A. Honaramooz
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N. C. Rawlings
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Transrectal ultrasonography of ovaries was performed each day in non-prolific Western white-faced (n = 12) and prolific Finn ewes (n = 7), during one oestrous cycle in the middle portion of the breeding season (October–December), to record the number and size of all follicles ± 3 mm in diameter. Blood samples collected once a day were analysed by radioimmunoassay for concentrations of LH, FSH and oestradiol. A cycle-detection computer program was used to identify transient increases in concentrations of FSH and oestradiol in individual ewes. Follicular and hormonal data were then analysed for associations between different stages of the lifespan of the largest follicles of follicular waves, and detected fluctuations in serum concentrations of FSH and oestradiol. A follicular wave was defined as a follicle or a group of follicles that began to grow from 3 to ± 5 mm in diameter within a 48 h period. An average of four follicular waves per ewe emerged during the interovulatory interval in both breeds of sheep studied. The last follicular wave of the oestrous cycle contained ovulatory follicles in all ewes, and the penultimate wave contained ovulatory follicles in 10% of white-faced ewes but in 57% of Finn ewes. Transient increases in serum concentrations of FSH were detected in all animals and concentrations reached peak values on days that approximated to follicle wave emergence. Follicular wave emergence was associated with the onset of transient increases in serum concentrations of oestradiol, and the end of the growth phase of the largest follicles (≥ 5 mm in diameter) was associated with peak serum concentrations of oestradiol. Serum FSH concentrations were higher in Finn than in Western white-faced ewes during the follicular phase of the cycle (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences in serum concentrations of LH between Western white-faced and Finn ewes (P > 0.05). Mean serum concentrations of oestradiol were higher in Finn compared with Western white-faced ewes (P < 0.01). It was concluded that follicular waves (follicles growing from 3 to ≥5 mm in diameter) occurred in both prolific and non-prolific genotypes of ewes and were closely associated with increased secretion of FSH and oestradiol. The increased ovulation rate in prolific Finn ewes appeared to be due primarily to an extended period of ovulatory follicle recruitment.

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