Evidence to support a follicle-stimulating hormone threshold theory for follicle selection in ewes chronically treated with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone agonist

in Reproduction

Summary. The mean and peak concentrations of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) during the luteal phase of a normal cycle were measured in 8 Welsh Mountain ewes. Gonadotrophin secretion and follicle growth were then suppressed by the chronic administration of the GnRH agonist buserelin for 5 weeks. During the 6th week of agonist treatment, each ewe was given a continuous infusion of FSH to produce a peripheral concentration of FSH equal to either the mean or peak of the gonadotrophin measured for that individual in the cycle preceding agonist treatment. Treatment had no effect on the total number of follicles, the number of follicles ⩽ 2·5 mm in diameter or the in-vitro production of oestradiol by the small follicles when compared with control animals. None of the animals infused with the mean luteal-phase FSH equivalent developed large follicles > 2·5 mm diameter which could be classified as preovulatory follicles (oestradiol > 1000 pg/follicle/h). All of the animals infused with the peak luteal-phase FSH equivalent developed large follicles, some of which were preovulatory. The results suggest that an individual threshold concentration exists for FSH above which the later stages of preovulatory follicular development are stimulated.

Keywords: FSH; follicle selection; GnRH agonist; sheep

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    Society for Reproduction and Fertility

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