Progestin-induced puberty and secretion of luteinizing hormone in Heifers

L. H. Anderson, C. M. McDowell, M. L. Day

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Two experiments were designed to investigate the endocrine mechanisms by which progestin administration induces puberty in heifers. In experiment 1, prepubertal heifers were randomly assigned by age to receive either a single norgestomet implant for 10 days (NORG; n = 15) or to serve as unimplanted controls (CONT; n = 14). Serial blood samples were obtained on Days -0.5, 8.5, and 10.5 (Day 1 = day of implant insertion) and were analyzed for concentrations of LH. On Days 9 and 11, 4 heifers in each treatment were slaughtered, and the reproductive tracts were obtained. Weekly progesterone analyses were performed to estimate the day of puberty in heifers not slaughtered. Puberty was induced in 6 of 7 heifers in the NORG treatment, resulting in an earlier (p < 0.05) day of puberty in the NORG than in the CONT treatment. The frequency of LH pulses was higher (p < 0.05) on Days 6.5 and 10.5 in the NORG as compared to the CONT treatment. Although no difference (p > 0.10) was observed between treatments in follicular development, uterine weight was greater (p < 0.05) in NORG than in CONT heifers on Day 11. In experiment 2, prepubertal heifers (n = 47) were administered either 1 (1NORG; n = 16), 8 (3NORG; n = 16), or 0 (CONT; n = 15) norgestomet implants for 10 days, and serial blood samples were obtained as described for experiment 1. Transrectal ultrasonography was used to determine the diameter of the largest follicle on Day 9. Plasma samples were obtained after each serial sample collection period and were analyzed for estradiol concentrations. Puberty was induced in 75% (12 of 16) and 81% (13 of 16) of heifers in the 1NORG and 3NORG treatments, respectively. Four heifers in the 1NORG treatment, from which serial blood samples were collected, ovulated before removal of the progestin implant, and the LH data for this treatment were deleted. In the 3NORG treatment, LH pulse frequency was suppressed (p < 0.05) on Day 8.5, but was greater (p < 0.05) 12 h after removal of the progestin (Day 10.5) than in the CONT treatment. We conclude that progestin administration hastens puberty by increasing LH secretion after progestin withdrawal and propose that progestin administration induces puberty by accelerating the peripubertal decrease of estradiol negative feedback on LH secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1031
Number of pages7
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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