The influence of blinding (BLD), olfactory bulbectomy (ANOS), and pinealectomy (PX) on 24-h plasma PRL levels was examined in normal and neonatally androgenized (NA) female rats. NA pups were treated at 3 days of age with 1.25 mg testosterone propionate. Surgery was performed on both NA and normal animals at 22-25 days of age. At 10 weeks of age, animals were vaginally smeared, and at 15 weeks, they were ovariectomized, injected with 0.5 mg polyestradiol phosphate, and fitted with atrial catheters for blood sampling. At 16 weeks of age, blood samples were taken over a 24-h period. In normal animals, BLD plus ANOS resulted in half of the animals exhibiting a diestrous vaginal smear, while the other half exhibited at least one vaginal estrus during the 7-day period when vaginal smears were obtained. Ovarian, oviductal, and uterine weights for blinded (BLD) plus olfactory bulbectomized (ANOS) animals exhibiting diestrous smears were significantly less than those of BLD plus ANOS animals exhibiting periodic vaginal estrus. Plasma PRL levels were lower in both animal groups compared with those in sham controls, but BLD plus ANOS animals with small ovaries had significantly lower plasma PRL and BLD plus ANOS animals with large ovaries. PX of BLD plus ANOS animals resulted in endocrine organ weights comparable to those in controls and elevated the plasma PRL levels to those observed in BLD plus ANOS animals with large ovaries. The PRL levels in BLD, ANOS, and pinealectomized animals, however, were still below those in sham control animals. Sensory deprived animals had peak PRL values at various times of day, and regrouping of the data from the peak PRL time for each animal suggested the presence of a free-running plasma PRL rhythm. In NA animals, a decrease was also observed in endocrine organ weights and plasma PRL for BLD plus ANOS animals similar to that observed for normal BLD plus ANOS animals. However, all animals in the NA BLD plus ANOS group responded with a constant diestrous smear, small ovaries, and low plasma PRL values. PX prevented the decrease in endocrine organ weights and plasma PRL observed in BLD plus ANOS animals. As in normal animals, NA animals also exhibited a free-running PRL rhythm when sensory deprived. One possibility as to why sensory deprivation in the normal female rat has resulted in contradictory evidence on plasma PRL levels in the literature is the free-running rhythm of plasma PRL in these animals. Both normal and NA animals responded to BLD and ANOS with a suppression of plasma PRL, and PX partially prevented this decrease.
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