The main objective of the present study was to analyse the hormonal dependence of the metrial gland formed in pseudopregnant animals following massive decidualization. On day 13 of pseudopregnancy (when the metrial gland reaches its maximal development) animals were ovariectomized and given s.c. implants of oestradiol and/or progesterone. A new implant technique for oestradiol delivery is described which provides circulating concentrations of oestradiol in the physiological range.
In addition, we extended our previous work concerning oestradiol receptor and progesterone receptor concentrations in the metrial gland of pseudopregnant rats. The low oestradiol receptor concentration which we previously reported up to day 17 was maintained until the end of pseudopregnancy (day 21–1·5 fmol/μg DNA), whereas the progesterone receptor concentration remained raised (≃3·5 fmol/μg DNA) from day 13 to day 19 and then decreased on day 21.
The correlation of metrial gland weight and kinetics of the tissue oestradiol and progesterone receptors contents with the circulating oestradiol and progesterone concentrations lead to the following conclusions. First, the maintenance of the metrial gland is strictly progesterone-dependent. It is unlike the deciduoma which regresses spontaneously, even in the presence of progesterone. Secondly, the production of oestradiol receptor, but not of progesterone receptor, appears to be repressed in the metrial gland under the influence of progesterone. Thus, the tissue retains its ability to respond to progesterone because of a high concentration of progesterone receptor. It is difficult to attribute this high tissue progesterone receptor concentration to oestradiol stimulation since, even at low levels, oestradiol induces tissue regression. We suggest that the high progesterone receptor concentration could be due to constitutive (basal) progesterone receptor production.