The inhibitory action on FSH secretion of combined oestradiol and progesterone treatment of ovariectomized, immature rats was studied at various ages. At all ages studied (13–35 days) an additional inhibitory action of progesterone, if combined with oestradiol, could be found as compared with the effect of oestradiol alone. Until 20 days of age, the rise in serum FSH concentration as measured 2 days after ovariectomy could be completely prevented by administration of 0·05 μg oestradiol/100 g body weight or by administration of a lower dose of oestradiol (0·01–0·025 μg) combined with progesterone (0·5–1·5 mg/100 g body weight). After 20 days neither oestradiol nor the combined oestradiol/progesterone treatment resulted in an FSH concentration similar to that found in intact rats. However, the lowest FSH concentrations were reached by using combinations of oestradiol and progesterone.
Using progesterone alone, FSH concentration in ovariectomized rats was significantly reduced between 18 and 30 days of age, but not before or after this period.
Taken together with data on uterine weight and serum concentrations of progesterone, these findings suggest that (1) both oestradiol and progesterone exert an age-dependent role in regulating FSH secretion in the immature female rat, and (2) amounts of oestradiol and progesterone capable of maintaining, in ovariectomized rats, uterine weights not different from those in intact rats will maintain near-physiological concentrations of FSH before but not after day 20. Thus, ovarian factors other than oestradiol and progesterone must be involved in the regulation of FSH secretion in the female rat after 20 days of age.