Evidence for the formation of supplementary corpora lutea in the pregnant and pseudopregnant rat

Garside, Deborah A. (1983) Evidence for the formation of supplementary corpora lutea in the pregnant and pseudopregnant rat. Doctoral thesis, City of London Polytechnic.


In a series of experiments investigating a possible post-coitum contraceptive, it was observed that the numbers of corpora lutea (CL) of pregnant Sprague-Dawley (CD) rats were greater than in cyclic, unmated control females (p<0.001).

The ontogeny of these supplementary CL (SCL) was established by the recording the mean number of CL in pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats on days 1 to 9 post-coitum (day 1 being the first day post-coitum) using the gross phological dissection of the ovary.

Compared to cyclic controls, an initial significant increase in mean CL numbers was recorded on day 1 post-coitum (p<0.05) with a further significant increase between days 5 and 7 (p<0.001). This phenomena was neither Sprague-Dawley strain, nor pregnancy specific, as a similar increase was also recorded for Wistar rats between days 4 and 7 postcoitum and identical increases in mean CL numbers were recorded in pseudopregnant rats of both strains.

Histological studies of ovarian tissue confirmed the presence of newly formed CL on day 5 and 6 post-coitum and an absence of entrapped ova; follicular development was also present in early pregnancy with Graafian follicles evident on day 4 post-coitum.

Plasma progesterone determinations revealed no increase in circulating progesterone as a result of SCL formation in either pregnant or pseudopregnant rats.

Supplementary ovulations may be initiated by the preimplantation surge of oestrogen, on day 4 post-coitum, as treatment with the anti-oestrogen. Tamoxifen, inhibits their formation. Investigations into the presence of an appropriately-timed preovulatory surge of gonadotrophins in the early stages of pregnancy however, proved inconclusive.

Supplementary ovulation occurs therefore between day 4 and 7 post-coitum in both pregnant and pseudopregnant Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats, probably initiated by a consistent physiological event. This phenomena therefore obviously has an impact on the estimation of embryo mortality studies in this species.

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