The circulating concentrations of FSH, LH and prolactin in the oestradiol-implanted ovariectomized ewe treated with caffeine

Rex J. Scaramuzzi, Jeff A. Downing, Susan Williamson*, Irina Pollard

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Caffeine, a trimethylxanthine alkaloid, is a psycho-active drug that effects a wide range of physiological systems, including the reproductive system. Reports of infants with intra-uterine growth retardation and lowered birth weight as a result of in utero exposure to caffeine, are increasing. The drug is also known to alter steroidogenesis but it is not certain whether this is a direct and/or an indirect effect with the involvement of the central nervous system. Thus, an experiment was designed to determine the effect of acute caffeine administration on the circulating concentrations of gonadotrophins and prolactin in the ovariectomized oestradiol-implanted ewe. A single intravenous dose of caffeine (20 mg kg-1 bodyweight) did not affect circulating gonadotrophin concentrations with the parameters for the pulsatile secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and the mean concentration of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) being similar in both experimental and control groups. Circulating prolactin levels, on the other hand, were significantly (P < 0.01) elevated following intravenous treatment with caffeine. The effect was immediate following caffeine administration with elevated concentrations being maintained over the next 3 h before their return to pre-treatment concentrations. The response was bi-phasic with peaks of prolactin concentrations at 1 and 3 h. The results of this experiment show that acute caffeine exposure does not affect the secretion of gonadotrophins from the anterior pituitary gland. Furthermore, they show that acute administration of caffeine stimulates prolactin secretion via an action that is independent of oestradiol feedback and which we suggest, may involve the ACTH/adrenal axis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)273-282
    Number of pages10
    JournalAnimal Reproduction Science
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 1997


    • Caffeine
    • FSH
    • LH
    • Prolactin
    • Sheep-endocrinology


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