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Mary Lou Zeeman : Modeling the Menstrual Cycle:How does estradiol initiate the LH surge?

In vertebrates, ovulation is triggered by a surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary. The precise mechanism by which rising estradiol (E2) from the ovaries initiates the LH surge in the human menstrual cycle remains a mystery. The mystery is due in part to the bimodal nature of estradiol feedback action on LH secretion, and in part to disagreement over the site of the feedback action.

We will describe a differential equations model in which the mysterious bimodality of estradiol action arises from the electrical connectivity of a network of folliculo-stellate cells in the pituitary. The mathematical model is based as closely as possible on current experimental data, and is being used to design and conduct new experiments. No biological background will be assumed.

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