Follicle growth and associated changes in circulating hormone concentrations were evaluated after follicle ablation in mares (n = 13) during four 13 day periods beginning at means of -98.5, -61.4, -26.0 and 10 days from the first ovulation and corresponding to mid-anovulatory, early-transitional, late-transitional and ovulatory periods, respectively. During each period, all follicles > 5 mm in diameter were ablated (day 0) followed by no subsequent ablations (all-follicle group) or the ablation of all follicles > 5 mm when a new follicle reached > 10 mm (0-follicle group). A follicular wave emerged at means of days 1.5-2.5 in all mares of the all-follicle group during each period. Follicle activity increased between the mid-anovulatory and the transitional periods, as indicated by increases in the diameter of the largest follicle and the number of follicles in the all-follicle groups; nonetheless, there were no differences in the FSH concentrations of the wave-stimulating surge throughout the study. Circulating total inhibin increased between day 3 and day 6 in the all-follicle groups but not in the 0-follicle groups, and was higher during the late-transitional and ovulatory periods than during earlier periods in the all-follicle groups. In the all-follicle groups, circulating FSH decreased between day 3 and day 6. In the 0-follicle groups, FSH did not decrease and was higher during the late-transitional and ovulatory periods than during the mid-anovulatory period. Circulating LH was higher during the late-transitional and ovulatory periods than during earlier periods and was not different between the all-follicle and 0-follicle groups. On the basis of temporal relationships, it was concluded that the follicles of a wave secreted inhibin during all periods and the follicular inhibin suppressed circulating FSH. An increase in circulating inhibin induced by the growth of follicles > 21 mm in diameter during the late-transitional and ovulatory periods counteracted a stimulatory effect on FSH mediated by season.
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