Involvement of estradiol in the deviation in growth rates between the two largest follicles of a wave was studied in 39 heifers. In experiment 1, the largest follicle remained intact in a control group and was ablated in five estradiol-treated groups when the largest follicle reached 8.5 mm or larger (expected beginning of deviation; Hour 0). The ablation groups were given a single injection of 0, 0.004, 0.02, 0.1, or 0.5 mg of estradiol. Blood samples were taken from a jugular vein every hour at Hours 0 to 16. By Hour 8, FSH concentrations were greater (P < 0.05) in the ablation group that received 0 mg of estradiol than in the controls. Among the estradiol groups, that receiving 0.02 mg had the lowest detectable increase in estradiol. In this group, FSH concentrations were not suppressed below the control concentrations, but the increase in FSH concentrations following ablation of the largest follicle was delayed for 2 or 3 h. This delay in the increase of FSH concentrations corresponded to the hours that estradiol was maximal. In experiment 2, blood samples were taken every 4 h from the caudal vena cava cranial to the junction with the ovarian veins in heifers with the largest follicle intact (controls) or ablated at 8.5 mm or larger (Hour 0). Averaged over Hours 4 to 48, estradiol concentrations were higher (P < 0.04) in the controls than in the ablation group. During Hours 0 to 12, estradiol concentrations increased (P < 0.05) in the controls, whereas FSH concentrations decreased (P < 0.05). In the ablation group, estradiol concentrations were lower than in the controls by Hour 4, and FSH concentrations increased (P < 0.05) between Hours 4 and 12. These results support the hypothesis that the largest follicle releases increased estradiol into the blood at the beginning of follicular deviation, and that the released estradiol is involved in the continuing depression of FSH concentrations to below the requirement of the smaller follicles.
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