In-vivo and in-vitro steroidogenic activity of post-ovulatory ovarian follicles of the rabbit.


Pseudopregnancy was induced in rabbits by injection of 50 i.u. hCG into the lateral ear vein. Blood was collected on Days 0, 1, 2 and 6 after hCG from the lateral ear vein and, in some studies, from the ovarian vein as well. Ovaries were collected on Days 0, 1, 2 or 6 after hCG injection, and follicles (greater than 0.8 mm diam.) were obtained by microdissection. Concentrations of oestradiol-17 beta, testosterone and progesterone in blood and follicular homogenates were measured by RIA. Follicular steroidogenesis was increased significantly on Day 6 after ovulation, at the time when the corpus luteum transforms into an oestrogen-dependent tissue. The ability of developing post-ovulatory follicles to secrete steroids in vitro in response to a gonadotrophic stimulus also increased over this same time interval. Follicular oestradiol production on Days 1 and 2 of pseudopregnancy may synergize with the post-ovulatory secretion of FSH to promote further follicular growth in the pseudopregnant rabbit.