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J Physiol Pharmacol. 1992 Dec;43(4 Suppl 1):69-78.

Control of the LH surge mechanism in the female pig.

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  • 1Institut für Tierzucht und Tierverhalten (FAL), Mariensee, Neustadt, Germany.


The functionality of the oestrogen-positive feedback mechanism is the basis for the preovulatory LH surge and thus for regular cyclic activity in the sow. The LH surge mechanism (LH SM) gradually matures as a function of age, immature gilts display delayed, low amplitude LH surges in response to oestradiol benzoate (OB). The maturation of the LH SM apparently is ovarian oestrogen-dependent. Continuous ovarian secretions, probably oestrogens, also appear to be necessary for the final peripubertal maturation of the LH SM and to maintain the functionality of this mechanism in the sexually mature gilt. Superphysiological levels of oestrogens are, however, detrimental to the development of the LH SM. Failure of various infusions of the opioid antagonist naloxone during the surge period to enhance the magnitude of OB-induced LH surges in immature gilts does not support the idea, that central opioidergic systems are of major importance in preventing mature LH surge response at this age. However, opioids could be involved in the termination of the LH surge. Experiments using the opioid agonist morphine and the antagonist naloxone to demonstrate that opioids are involved in the generation of the LH surge in the mature gilt have so far provided equivocal data. Studies using pulsatile infusions of LHRH or of a potent LHRH-agonist during the surge period in OB-treated immature gilts, in which endogenous LHRH release was blocked by methallibure, suggest that oestradiol fails to generate mature LH surges because the gonadotrophs of the immature gilt are unable to respond to enhanced LHRH secretion during the surge period in an adult-like manner. During early lactation the LH SM cannot be activated by OB, while during late lactation a partial recovery of the LH SM occurs. Minor breed differences exist in the functionality of the LH SM during lactation between LW sows and highly fertile Chinese Meishan sows, in which lactational anoestrus is not obligatory.

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