The effects of pregnancy and lactation on lipolysis in sheep adipose tissue in vitro were investigated. Neither pregnancy nor lactation altered the basal rate of lipolysis. The rate of noradrenaline-stimulated lipolysis was directly proportional to adipocyte mean cell volume. Lactation, but not pregnancy, increased the response to noradrenaline, but had no effect on the ED50 of noradrenaline. The adenosine analogue N6-phenylisopropyladenosine decreased the rate of lipolysis in the presence of noradrenaline; the effect was greater with adipose tissue from lactating than from control, unmated, sheep. Results are discussed in relation to the need of sheep to mobilize lipid during early lactation to support milk production.

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