A. R. C. Institute of Animal Physiology, Babraham, Cambridge, CB2 4AT
(Received 12 April 1977)
Both electrical stimulation with steel microelectrodes and injection of iron salts into the preoptic area lead to an increased concentration of luteinizing hormone (LH) in the plasma and ovulation (Everett & Radford, 1961; Dyer & Burnet, 1976).
Initially, iron salts were thought to excite nerve cells but Fe2+ and Fe3+ ions, like most cations, when applied to nerve cells by micro-iontophoresis, inhibit firing (Dyer & Burnet, 1976). Dyer & Burnet (1976) proposed a number of alternative explanations for the electrochemical stimulation of ovulation. They suggested that ferrous or ferric ions might kill or damage some neurones and the resulting cell disruption might lead in turn to the liberation of a sufficient quantity of luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LH-RH) into the hypophysial portal vessels to cause a surge of LH. Alternatively, ovulation might be stimulated by