Lactogenesis, as indicated by the appearance of mammary lactose, follows ovariectomy and/or hysterectomy and the fall in the concentration of progesterone in the plasma preceding normal parturition in the pregnant rat. It is suppressed by administered progesterone in all cases, and by prolactin after hysterectomy.
The natural lactogenic signal may occur 30 hr. before parturition, due to conversion of progesterone to 20α-hydroxypregn-4-en-3-one in the ovaries. Changes in the concentration of corticosterone, oestrogen and prolactin in the plasma either do not occur or do not constitute a lactogenic signal.