2007 Volume 18 Issue 3 Pages 107-115
The changes in testicular and pituitary functions in response to human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the breeding and non-breeding season were investigated and compared in the Thoroughbred stallion. Five mature Thoroughbred stallions ranging in ages from 7 to 21 years were injected in May (breeding season) and October (non-breeding season). All animals received an intramuscular injection of 5,000 IU hCG in the experiments. Peripheral blood samples were collected in heparinized tubes from the jugular vein for hormonal assays just before the injection (Day 0) and at a daily interval for five days following the injections (Days 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5). Basal levels of immunoreactive (ir) inhibin, testosterone, estradiol-17β, FSH and LH were higher in the breeding season than in the non-breeding season. There were significant differences in estradiol-17β, FSH and LH between the two seasons. Ir-inhibin exhibited significant increases on Day 2 after the hCG treatment in the non-breeding season, though there was no change in the breeding season. Plasma levels of testosterone showed remarkable increases after the hCG injection in both seasons. The peak levels of plasma testosterone were observed on Days 2 and 3 in the breeding and non-breeding seasons. Plasma estradiol-17β was significantly higher than the basal level on Day 3 in the non-breeding season, whereas there was no change in the breeding season. Plasma levels of FSH declined from Day 1 to Day 3, then recovered to the basal level (Day 0) on Day 4 after hCG treatment in the breeding season, whereas there was no change in the non-breeding season. Circulating LH showed a significant decrease on Day 3 compared to the based level in the breeding season, but no significant change in the non-breeding season after a treatment of hCG. A significant negative correlation was observed between testosterone and FSH in the breeding season. In conclusion, hCG treatment stimulates secretion of testicular hormones and these testicular hormones temporarily suppress secretion of gonadotropins from the pituitary gland. These results also suggested that Leydig cells of thoroughbred stallion testes have LH receptors in the non-breeding season, the same as in the breeding season.