Factors affecting luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion in response to stimulation of the preoptic area (POA) of the forebrain in rats were explored by determining serum LH levels after electrochemical stimulation of the POA. In rats made anovulatory by exposure to constant light (CLA rats), peak concentrations of LH in serum were found 2 h after stimulation with 5–15 mC, and 1 h after stimulation with 0·5–1 mC. The peak levels increased with increasing doses between 0·5 and 15 mC. The incidence of rats ovulating and the mean number of ovulations/rat were roughly proportional to the stimulating dose, but a plateau was reached between 5 and 10 mC. A threshold level of serum LH seemed to be necessary for ovulation, and the incidence of ovulations of six ova or more/rat increased with the increase in peak serum LH level.
Preoptic-roof section, which cuts dorsal afferents to the POA, enhanced the increase in serum LH in response to POA stimulation in CLA rats, while sodium pentobarbitone anaesthesia decreased the response. In both cases, the incidence of ovulation and the number of ovulations/rat were not different from values found in POA-stimulated control CLA rats showing the same peak serum LH level.
In normal cyclic rats the response of serum LH to stimulation was much greater on the morning of pro-oestrus than on that of oestrus; at prooestrus a second rise occurred between 17.00 and 19.00 h. Three days after ovariectomy the basal level of LH increased; these ovariectomized rats showed a small increase in response to a dose of 5 mC. Treatment with 20 μg oestradiol benzoate at the time of ovariectomy, however, resulted in a lowered basal LH level, but the peak response to 5 mC was almost as great as that found in similarly stimulated intact CLA rats. In intact males and in neonatally androgen-treated females the peak levels of serum LH in response to doses of 5 or 15 mC were equivalent to those in CLA females in response to doses of only 1–5 mC.