A single subcutaneous injection of progesterone (0·5 mg/animal at 17.00 hours) on Day 3 of the cycle (Day 1 = day of vaginal discharge) interfered with ovulation and external vaginal discharge in all the animals. Lower doses were only partly active. Intravenous administration of LH, FSH or their combination at 14.00 hours on Day 4 failed to restore ovulation in such animals, implying a direct action of the administered progesterone on the ovary. A large dose of oestradiol benzoate (400 μg/animal) also proved inactive suggesting that progesterone did not interfere with ovulation solely through antioestrogenic action. Depletion of the pituitary LH stores normally found in association with ovulation and the ovulatory peak of LH in plasma seen in control animals were not observed in the progesterone-treated hamsters suggesting a further action of progesterone at the pituitary-hypothalamic level in inhibiting ovulation. Administration of synthetic LRF (100 ng/animal, i.v.) on Day 4 to hamsters treated with progesterone caused an increase in plasma LH 15 min later which was comparable to the rise observed in control animals given a similar injection of LH-RF, implying lack of action of progesterone at the pituitary level. It is concluded that progesterone acts centrally, principally on the hypothalamus, and peripherally on the ovary to interfere with ovulation in hamsters. It is possible that the anovulatory state accompanying pregnancy results from these actions.
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