Prenatal exposure of the female sheep to excess testosterone (T) leads to hypergonadotropism, multifollicular ovaries, and progressive loss of reproductive cycles. We have determined that prenatal T treatment delays the latency of the estradiol (E2)-induced LH surge. To extend this finding into a natural physiological context, the present study was conducted to determine if the malprogrammed surge mechanism alters the reproductive cycle. Specifically, we wished to determine if prenatal T treatment 1) delays the onset of the preovulatory gonadotropin surge during the natural follicular phase rise in E2, 2) alters pulsatile LH secretion and the dynamics of the secondary FSH surge, and 3) compromises the ensuing luteal function. Females prenatally T-treated from Day 60 to Day 90 of gestation (147 days is term) and control females were studied when they were ∼2.5 yr of age. Reproductive cycles of control and prenatally T-treated females were synchronized with PGF2α, and peripheral blood samples were collected every 2 h for 120 h to characterize cyclic changes in E2, LH, and FSH and then daily for 14 days to monitor changes in luteal progesterone. To assess LH pulse patterns, blood samples were also collected frequently (each 5 min for 6 h) during the follicular and luteal phases of the cycle. The results revealed that, in prenatally T-treated females, 1) the preovulatory increase in E2 was normal; 2) the latencies between the preovulatory increase in E2 and the peaks of the primary LH and FSH surges were longer, but the magnitudes similar; 3) follicular-phase LH pulse frequency was increased; 4) the interval between the primary and secondary FSH surges was reduced but there was a tendency for an increase in duration of the secondary FSH surge; but 5) luteal progesterone patterns were in general unaltered. Thus, exposure of the female to excess T before birth produces perturbances and maltiming in periovulatory gonadotropin secretory dynamics, but these do not produce apparent defects in cycle regularity or luteal function. To reveal the pathologies that lead to the eventual subfertility arising from excess T exposure during midgestation, studies at older ages must be conducted to assess if there is progressive disruption of neuroendocrine and ovarian function.
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1 January 2005
Fetal Programming: Testosterone Exposure of the Female Sheep During Midgestation Disrupts the Dynamics of Its Adult Gonadotropin Secretion During the Periovulatory Period
James S. Lee,
Tejinder P. Sharma,
Douglas L. Foster,