The intervals between emergence of follicular waves 1 (first wave of an oestrous cycle) and 2, and between the associated FSH surges (surges 1 and 2), were studied in control (n = 7) and recombinant bovine (rb)FSH-treated (n = 7) heifers. The expected start of the deviation in follicle diameter between the two largest follicles of wave 1 was defined as the day on which the largest follicle reached 8.5 mm (day 0). In the control heifers, circulating concentrations of FSH decreased and oestradiol increased between day 0 and day 1.5 or day 2.0 in a reciprocal relationship. The opposite reciprocal relationship between an FSH increase and an oestradiol decrease occurred during the next 3 days. This temporal result is consistent with a negative systemic effect of oestradiol on FSH at this time. rbFSH was administered in a dosage regimen that was expected to result in a similarity between FSH surge 2 in the rbFSH-treated group and surge 2 in the control group. On average, surge 2 and wave 2 occurred approximately 2 days earlier in the rbFSH-treated group than in the control group, and characteristics of the FSH surge and follicular wave were similar (no significant differences) between groups. These results support the hypothesis that low circulating FSH concentrations after the deviation in follicle diameter control the interval to emergence of the subsequent follicular wave. However, in one of seven rbFSH-treated heifers, the largest follicle from the apparent stimulation of rbFSH reached only 5.7 mm; therefore, the possibility of involvement of additional mechanisms cannot be dismissed.
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