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C Bellido, D Gonzalez, R Aguilar and JE Sanchez-Criado

We have previously shown that administration of antiprogestin (AP) type II RU486 to ovariectomized (OVX) rats on the morning of pro-oestrus decreases the magnitude of preovulatory gonadotrophin surge. This suggests that the effect of RU486 on LHRH-dependent gonadotrophin release may be independent of its ability to block progesterone actions. The aim of the present research was to study the possible site of RU486 action and to determine whether the gonadotrophin suppressive effect of APs RU486 and ZK299 is dependent on the oestrogen background. Intact or OVX rats in the morning of pro-oestrus were injected s.c. with 4 mg of RU486 or ZK299 (AP type I) at 0900 h on pro-oestrus. At 1830 h, serum concentration of FSH and LH and median eminence (ME) content of LHRH were determined. In the second experiment, the effect of RU486 and ZK299 on pituitary responsiveness to LHRH (100 ng, i.p.) and ME content of LHRH at 1830 h pentobarbital-blocked intact or OVX rats was evaluated. In the last study, the anterior pituitary release of FSH and LH from pro-oestrus or metoestrus donors incubated with or without LHRH (1, 10 or 100 nM) in the presence or absence of APs (20 nM) was evaluated. Both APs reduced serum FSH and LH levels at 1830 h on pro-oestrus in intact and OVX rats. The suppressive effect on gonadotrophin release brought about by AP treatment was also evidenced in PB-blocked intact and OVX rats. This suggested that the inhibitory effect of APs occurred, at least in part, at pituitary level. Furthermore, in the absence of the natural ligand, APs significantly reduced basal and LHRH-stimulated FSH and LH release from pro-oestrous but not from metoestrus pituitaries. In conclusion, these experiments have shown, both 'in vivo' and 'in vitro', that APs RU486 and ZK299 have suppressive effects at pituitary level on basal and LHRH-stimulated FSH and LH secretion, regardless of their antiprogestagenic activity, in pro-oestrus but not in metoestrus.

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JE Sanchez-Criado, C Bellido, M Tebar, A Ruiz and D Gonzalez

Administration of 4 mg of the antisteroid RU486 over 8 consecutive days to adult male rats dissociated in vivo and in vitro gonadotrophin secretion, increasing FSH and decreasing LH secretion. In subsequent experiments we evaluated the involvement of testicular or adrenal secretory products, as well as hypothalamic LHRH, in the effects of 4 consecutive days of RU486 treatment on the secretion of gonadotrophins. The first day of RU486 injection was designated day 1, subsequent days being numbered consecutively. Groups of rats injected with oil (0.2 ml) or RU486 (4 mg) were: (i) injected s.c. from day 1 to day 4 with the antiandrogen flutamide (10 mg/kg); (ii) bilateral orchidectomized (ORCH) on day 1; and (iii) bilateral adrenalectomized (ADX) on day 1. Controls were given flutamide vehicle or were sham operated. To ascertain whether the secretion of LHRH is involved in the effects of RU486 on gonadotrophin secretion, we measured the LHRH secretion into the pituitary stalk blood vessels at 1100 h on day 5 in oil- or RU486-treated rats. Additional oil- and RU486-treated rats were injected i.p. with 100 ng LHRH at 1000 h on day 5, or s.c. with 1 mg LHRH antagonist (LHRH-ANT) at 1000 h on days 2 and 4. Controls were given saline. All animals were decapitated at 1100 h on day 5, trunk blood collected and serum stored frozen until FSH, LH and testosterone assays.%While ADX had no effect on FSH and LH secretion in either oil- or RU486-treated rats, the removal of androgen negative feedback with flutamide treatment or by ORCH substantially increased serum levels of FSH and LH in both oil- and RU486-treated rats, and thus annulled the effects of RU486. No differences in pituitary stalk plasma LHRH concentrations were found between oil- and RU486-treated rats. Injection of LHRH increased serum FSH and LH concentrations in oil-treated rats but only, and to a lesser extent, LH concentrations in RU486-treated rats. Treatment with LHRH-ANT decreased serum concentrations of FSH and LH in both oil- and RU486-treated rats. These results suggest that RU486 inhibited LHRH-stimulated LH secretion at the pituitary level, and that FSH secretion increased in response to a reduction in the negative feedback of androgen.

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F Gaytan, C Morales, C Bellido, R Aguilar, Y Millan, J Martin De Las Mulas and JE Sanchez-Criado

Preovulatory surges of both prolactin (PRL) and progesterone have been suggested to be necessary for the induction of apoptosis in the regressing corpus luteum of the cyclic rat. The aim of these experiments was to study whether the administration of PRL and/or progesterone on the morning of pro-oestrus reproduces the regressive changes that happen in the cyclic corpus luteum (CL) during the transition from pro-oestrus to oestrus, and to analyse the temporal relationships between two characteristic features of structural luteolysis (luteal cell apoptosis and accumulation of macrophages). Cyclic rats (treated at 0900 h with an LHRH antagonist to block LH secretion) were injected at 1000 h with PRL and progesterone and killed at 0, 30, 60, 90 and 180 min after treatment. The number of apoptotic cells increased progressively from 60 min after treatment onward in hormone-treated rats, whereas the number of macrophages did not change throughout the period of time considered. Rats injected with PRL plus progesterone showed significantly greater numbers of apoptotic cells than those injected with PRL alone. The luteolytic effects of progesterone were in keeping with the presence of luteal endothelial cells showing progesterone receptor (PR) immunoreactivity in pro-oestrus. Treatment of rats during dioestrus and pro-oestrus with the specific antioestrogens LY117018 and RU58668 decreased the luteolytic effects of PRL and progesterone and the number of luteal endothelial cells immunostained for PR. These results strongly suggest that the preovulatory PRL surge and the preovulatory increase in progesterone together trigger structural regression of the corpus luteum. This seems to be dependent on oestrogen-driven cyclic changes in PRs in luteal endothelial cells.