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J Reprod Fertil. 1994 Nov;102(2):433-46.

Evidence for the essential role of prostaglandins for parturition in a marsupial, Macropus eugenii.

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Department of Anatomy, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


Female tammar wallabies were treated prepartum with the prostaglandin synthase inhibitor indomethacin, with or without the dopamine agonist bromocriptine, to suppress the peripartum pulses of plasma prostaglandin and prolactin. The animals were observed continuously to detect birth, and a series of blood samples taken to define the hormonal profiles before and immediately after parturition. Birth was observed in ten of twelve control animals but not in the six animals treated with indomethacin alone or the six animals treated with indomethacin and bromocriptine. Indomethacin disrupted the normal profile of PGF2 alpha metabolite 13,14-dihydro-15-keto-prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGFM) concentrations, and in the females treated with bromocriptine plus indomethacin the pulse of prolactin normally seen at parturition was completely abolished. Plasma progesterone concentrations fell slowly in treated animals, whereas in control animals they fell steeply immediately after parturition. Postpartum oestrus was delayed or absent in treated and most control animals, suggesting that the frequent blood sampling and disturbances in the peripartum period interfered with these endocrine processes. We conclude that prostaglandin is essential for normal birth. Prolactin, in the apparent absence of a prostaglandin peak, does not induce birth or rapid luteolysis. Prostaglandin release may synchronize the rapid fall in progesterone concentrations associated with birth, but in the absence of this signal, the corpus luteum undergoes a less rapid, autonomous decline.

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