Summary. Ovarian steroid metabolism was investigated (i) during development in a normal inbred strain in which post-natal follicle growth has been described and (ii) in adult hypogonadal (hpg) mice which lack GnRH and have very low serum concentrations of gonadotrophins. Tissue was incubated with [3H]pregnenolone or [3H]androstenedione and metabolites separated by t.l.c. or h.p.l.c. Progesterone was the major metabolite formed at all ages while androstenedione was the major androgen. Between 7 and 21 days there was an overall increase in steroidogenic enzyme activity with a peak of 5α-reductase between 21 and 29 days. The major metabolite of progesterone around puberty was 5α-pregnane-3α-ol-20-one. A sharp increase in 20α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase was observed after 38 days due, presumably, to the appearance of corpora lutea. Unlike the rat, androstanediol levels were low at all ages. Oestradiol was the major oestrogen formed from androstenedione with a peak of production at 38 days. In the adult hpg mouse metabolism was similar to that of the 7-day normal mouse although 17-ketosteroid reductase and aromatase levels were very low compared to normal animals of any age, indicating that gonadotrophin stimulation is involved in the expression of activity by these enzymes.
Keywords: mouse; ovary; development; steroidogenesis; hypogonadal
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