Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5001
(Received 18th April 1975)
The key role of the fetus in the endocrine changes preceding parturition in the sheep is now well established. Liggins et al. (1974) have shown that the complex series of events which result in parturition are initiated by the fetal hypothalamus. As yet, however, the factors which activate the hypothalamus itself are not known. In the adult, the pineal gland has been shown by many workers to exert an important modifying influence on the function of the hypothalamopituitary system (see Reiter, 1973) and the possible involvement of the pineal at parturition must be considered.
Among the substances which mediate the endocrine functions of the pineal gland are the methoxyindoles melatonin and 5-methoxytryptophol. Present methods for measurement of these hormones in body tissues and fluids are, however, unsatisfactory and most assessments of pineal function are based
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