Twenty acutely castrated bulls were used to investigate the role of androgenic and oestrogenic steroids in the feedback control of LH secretion. The effects of 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) or the growth stimulants trenbolone acetate (TBA) or oestradiol-17β (OE2) on serum LH secretory profiles were measured. In addition, pituitary LH responses to exogenous LH releasing hormone (LHRH) were determined to differentiate between hypothalamic and pituitary sites of steroid action. At the time of castration, two groups of animals were given implants of either 45 mg OE2 or 200 mg TBA. Another group received equivalent to 30 mg daily injections of DHT. Control steers showed an increase in LH from 2·4 ± 0·5 (s.e.m.) μg/l to 7·0 ± 0·5 μg/l during the week after castration. Treatment with DHT and TBA prevented the post-castration rise in serum LH. In contrast, steers given implants of OE2 showed a significantly greater increase in LH than controls 1 day after castration, but by day 5 LH declined in the OE2-treated group to precastration values. Five weeks after castration control steers secreted LH in pulses at intervals of 40–50 min and with an amplitude of 4·2± 0·4 μg/l. Pulses were not detected in the LH profiles of the steroid-treated steers. Dihydrotestosterone and TBA significantly reduced pituitary LH responses to exogenous LHRH, whereas steers receiving OE2 showed LH responses to LHRH which were similar to those observed in castrated controls.
These results support the hypothesis that androgenic and oestrogenic components participate separately in the feedback control of LH secretion in the bull. A similar LH response to exogenous LHRH in control and OE2-treated animals suggests that the primary site of oestrogen feedback is at the level of the hypothalamus. Conversely, the small LH response to LHRH in androgen-treated animals suggests that androgen feedback is, in part, imposed at the level of the pituitary gland. Interestingly, LH secretion is regulated by dosages of androgenic and oestrogenic steroids which are available commercially as growth stimulants for cattle.