Summary. A heterologous radioimmunoassay system developed for the sheep was shown to measure FSH in the plasma of the blue fox. FSH concentrations throughout the year showed a circannual rhythm with the highest values (61 ·6 ± 14·8 ng/ml) occurring shortly before or at the onset of the mating season, a pattern similar to that of LH. The concentration of FSH then declined when androgen concentrations and testicular development were maximal at the time of the mating season (March to May). Thereafter, concentrations remained low (25·2 ± 4·1 ng/ml) in contrast to those of LH. Implantation of melatonin in August and in February maintained high plasma values of FSH after the mating season (142·3 ± 16·5 ng/ml) in association with a maintenance of testicular development and of the winter coat. The spring rise of prolactin was suppressed by melatonin treatment. The release of FSH after LHRH injection was also increased during this post-mating period in melatonin-treated animals, in contrast to the response of the control animals which remained low or undetectable.
These results suggest that changes both in the secretions of FSH and prolactin may be involved in the prolongation of testicular activity and in the suppression of the spring moult after melatonin administration.
Keywords: blue fox; FSH; melatonin; LHRH; seasonal cycle
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