in Journal of Endocrinology
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The release of oxytocin and neurophysin during suckling has been studied in conscious unrestrained guinea-pigs. After prior separation, mothers and litters were allowed to suckle for a period of 10 min, and the weight gain of the litter recorded as an index of milk transfer. Maternal blood samples were obtained without disturbance through previously implanted intravenous cannulae and neurophysin and oxytocin determined on unextracted plasma by specific and sensitive radioimmunoassays. In 82 out of 118 experiments the young gained weight during suckling (1·6±0·1 (s.e.m.) g/pup) and this was associated with large rises in both oxytocin and neurophysin concentrations in plasma (mean concentrations: oxytocin 65·4fmol/ml, neurophysin 360fmol/ml). Where serial samples were taken, oxytocin and neurophysin showed a rapid rise and fall in concentration closely associated with the occurrence of milk ejection as judged by the behaviour of the litter. The present results provide the first direct evidence of a spurt release of both oxytocin and neurophysin measured simultaneously during milk ejection. The conscious lactating guinea-pig thus provides a useful laboratory model in which to study hormone release during milk ejection.


      Society for Endocrinology

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