Corpora lutea could be identified under the dissection microscope up to 7 days after formation. They were isolated during the oestrous cycle and pseudopregnancy and the progesterone and 20α-OH-progesterone contents were compared with serum values of these steroids. The pattern of progesterone in serum resembled that found in the corpora lutea. However, the pattern of 20α-OH-progesterone concentrations in serum and corpora lutea were different. While 20α-OH-progesterone concentrations in the corpora lutea showed large variations during the cycle, changes in serum concentrations of 20α-OH-progesterone were relatively small. Measurement of hormone concentrations in isolated corpora lutea is therefore a sensitive method for studying corpus luteum activity.
To study whether corpora lutea derived after ovulation of immature follicles showed deficient luteal activity, rats at dioestrus (2 days before pro-oestrus) were induced to ovulate by the injection of 10 IU human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) and subsequent luteal activity was studied by measuring hormone concentrations in the corpora lutea on day 5 of pseudopregnancy. Concentrations of progesterone, but not of 20α-OH-progesterone, in corpora lutea derived from follicles induced to ovulate at dioestrusday 1 were significantly lower than those in corpora lutea derived from follicles induced to ovulate at prooestrus. This difference was observed not only when pseudopregnancy was induced by cervical stimulation but also when it was induced by implantation of a pituitary gland under the kidney capsule. However, in the latter case, corpora lutea already present on the day of hCG injection also became activated.
The present experiments demonstrate that by measuring hormone concentrations in isolated corpora lutea changes in luteal activity can be studied effectively. Moreover, it appears that corpora lutea derived from immature follicles contained less progesterone than those derived from fully mature follicles.
Journal of Endocrinology (1989) 120, 325–330