The aim of this study was to examine the role of LH on the growth of the large preovulatory follicle and its secretion of hormones in sheep. Ewes with ovarian autotransplants were treated with GnRH-antagonist at the time of luteal regression and different LH regimes applied for 60–66 h before administration of an ovulatory stimulus (hCG). In Experiment 1 (N = 24; n = 8), ewes received either no LH or constant or pulsatile infusion of LH at the same dose (1.25 μg/h). In Experiment 2 (N = 12, n = 6), LH was constantly infused at a rate of 1.25 μg or 2.5 μg oLH/h. In Experiment 1, animals receiving either pulsatile or constant LH exhibited increases in estradiol and inhibin A secretion (P < 0.001) and a depression in FSH (P < 0.001) that resembled the normal follicular phase. Similarly in Experiment 2, doubling the dose of LH resulted in a two-fold increase in ovarian estradiol secretion (P < 0.05) but no other changes. All animals receiving LH, regardless of the pattern of stimulation, ovulated and established a normal luteal phase. In contrast, no LH treatment resulted in constant immuno-active LH without pulses, unchanged FSH and inhibin A concentrations (P < 0.05), and basal estradiol secretion (P < 0.001). Morphologically normal large antral follicles were observed in this group and although corpora lutea formed in response to hCG, progesterone profiles were abnormal. In conclusion, these results suggest that LH is an essential requirement for normal ovulatory follicle development and subsequent luteal function and show that a pulsatile mode of LH stimulation is not required by ovulatory follicles.
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Vol. 76 • No. 4