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      High concentrations of immunoreactive inhibin in the plasma of mares and fetal gonads during the second half of pregnancy.

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          Plasma concentrations of immunoreactive (ir)-inhibin were measured in seven pregnant mares from around Day 140 of gestation to Day 2 after parturition using a heterologous bovine-based radioimmunoassay (RIA). Concentrations of luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), oestradiol-17 beta, progesterone and relaxin were also measured in the same samples. A marked increase in plasma concentrations of ir-inhibin, FSH and LH occurred between Day 220 and Day 300 of gestation but the concentrations of all three hormones returned to baseline by about Day 320 (three weeks before parturition). In contrast, circulating concentrations of the three placental hormones, oestradiol-17 beta, progesterone and relaxin, increased during the final weeks of pregnancy and then decreased markedly to basal values within two days of parturition. There was a positive correlation between circulating concentrations of ir-inhibin and FSH (r = 0.75, P < 0.01) rather than the expected negative correlation. ir-inhibin was not detected in homogenates obtained at Day 190 of pregnancy and form term placenta, but high concentrations of ir-inhibin were present in homogenates of fetal and newborn gonads. Despite the high concentrations of ir-inhibin in these homogenates, they failed to exert any suppressive bioactivity on FSH secretion by rat pituitary cells cultured in vitro. Furthermore, immunohistochemical staining revealed the presence of inhibin in the interstitial cells of equine fetal gonads at Day 190 of gestation. These findings demonstrate for the first time that high concentrations of ir-inhibin, LH and FSH are secreted into the peripheral circulation of the mare during the second half of pregnancy. However, ir-inhibin present in the plasma of pregnant mares appears to be biologically inactive. This hormone is not presumed to be of placental origin but it is proposed that either the enlarged fetal gonads or the maternal ovaries, or both of these organs, may be a source of inhibin in response to the coincident increase in circulating concentrations of LH and FSH.

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          Author and article information

          Reprod. Fertil. Dev.
          Reproduction, fertility, and development
          : 8
          : 8
          [1 ] Clinical Science and Pathobiology Division, Japan Racing Association, Equine Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan.


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