An investigation of pituitary sensitivity, assessed in terms of increments in plasma LH and FSH concentrations, to stimulation with one or two injections of gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) was carried out on 26-day-old immature female rats which had received one of the following priming treatments: 10 μg oestradiol benzoate (OB) as a single injection on day 23 or day 25, or on both days; 10 i.u. pregnant mare serum gonadotrophin (PMSG) on day 24; an electrochemical brain lesion placed in the mediobasal hypothalamus on day 23; control animals received either vehicle alone or a sham lesion.
Pituitary sensitivity assessed at 10.00 h on day 26, after one or two injections of GnRH (100 ng/100 g body weight, s.c.), was enhanced to a similar degree in the three groups treated with OB in terms of LH (P < 0-01). The FSH response also increased after OB treatment but was not statistically significant. In contrast, 48 h after the injection of PMSG (i.e. when the rats were in a 'pro-oestrous-like' condition) pituitary sensitivity in terms of both LH and FSH dropped sharply (P < 0·001). In lesioned animals, pituitary sensitivity to one injection of GnRH was unchanged. A second GnRH injection administered after a 60 min interval induced a slightly larger LH response in control animals. In contrast, the ratio of the second response to the first increased in animals treated with PMSG, despite the state of overall decrease in sensitivity, being 4·5:1 in PMSG-treated rats versus 1·4:1 in controls.
In a second set of experiments, we investigated the variation of pituitary sensitivity in conjunction with an experimentally induced gonadotrophin surge. In animals treated with OB on day 23 and with 1 mg progesterone at 12·00 h on day 26, pituitary sensitivity was increased at both 14.00 and 17.00 h as compared with that in the day 23 OB-treated group at 10.00 h. The PMSG-treated animals maintained their state of decreased responsiveness at 14.00 h, but exhibited increased pituitary sensitivity at the time of the gonadotrophin surge (17.00 h).
These results show that OB increases pituitary sensitivity to GnRH in 26-day-old female rats and that the induction of a gonadotrophin surge further increases this sensitivity. In contrast, PMSG-treated rats displayed a state of decreased responsiveness 48 and 52 h, but not 55 h, after the injection. Pituitary sensitivity on the second day after PMSG treatment thus clearly differs from that observed during pro-oestrus in the adult cyclic female rat.