SUMMARY: The placenta is the primary site of infection of and is also intimately involved in the control of parturition. Changes in the pattern of placental hormone secretion were investigated in ewes infected with and in saline-injected controls. The concentration of progesterone in peripheral plasma of infected sheep was significantly lower than in control sheep (<0.01). A gradual decline in plasma progesterone occurred in -infected sheep, beginning on day 125 of gestation, in comparison with the sharper decline commencing on day 139 of gestation in the control population. The release of oestradiol 17β, which was greatest on the day of parturition in control sheep, was significantly (<0.02) increased on the day before parturition in -infected sheep. The concentrations of prostaglandin E in amniotic and allantoic fluids were low during late pregnancy in 12 control sheep, but were significantly raised (</ref><0.05) in four out of 12 samples obtained from -infected sheep over the same period. The changes in progesterone and prostaglandin E were temporally related to the morphological and histochemical changes characteristic of trophoblast infection. These findings suggest that infection may precipitate premature labour by altering placental steroid and prostaglandin release.


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