The involvement of the adrenal gland in the release of gonadotrophins and the onset of puberty in female rats was studied. Two and four days after adrenalectomy (ADX) on either day 5 or 10 after birth, a significant decrease in the concentration of FSH was found; 4 days after ADX on either day 15 or 20, FSH concentrations had increased significantly compared with sham-operated and/or intact controls. However, in the rats adrenalectomized on day 15 or 20, the body weights were lower than in control rats. Relative uterine weights (mg/100 g body wt) in adrenalectomized rats never differed from those of control rats.
A delay in the time at which vaginal opening and the first oestrus occurred was found in rats adrenalectomized at 20 or 25 days of age; however this delay was accompanied in these rats by a retardation in the gain in body weight. It is argued that the effects of ADX on both the release of gonadotrophins and the onset of puberty are primarily, and presumably exclusively, due to the effects on general bodily development (expressed in body weight). The lack of effect of ADX on uterine weight supports the hypothesis that 'oestrogen-like' products from the adrenal gland are not biologically active as oestrogens.