Octopus vulgaris can be forced into precocious maturity by removal of the subpedunculate lobe from the brain, an operation that releases the optic glands from inhibition, and allows them to secrete a gonadotropin.
14C-leucine was injected into the bloodstream of immature animals and its subsequent incorporation into muscle protein followed by taking successive samples from the arms. The optic glands were then activated, and a further injection of 3H-leucine given and followed by means of further arm samples.
Optic gland secretion suppresses protein synthesis in the muscles. This is associated with an increase in the total amino acid pool in the muscles and with a considerable increase in the concentration of free amino acids circulating in the blood.
If an ovary is present these events are associated with a rapid growth of the ovary and its ducts, and a loss of weight elsewhere. In ovariectomized animals the ducts grow, but there is no yolk to absorb the large pool of free amino acids, and the animals gain weight by osmotic uptake of water into the muscles.
The developing ovary may produce a hormone that increases the release of amino acids from muscle, since the concentration circulating in the blood of intact animals remains at least as high as in ovariectomized octopuses, despite the demands of the developing ovary.
These matters are discussed in relation to other evidence for a gonadial hormone and in relation to the ‘self-destruct’ effect of the optic gland secretion in determining the post-reproductive death of octopuses.