Effects of Combined Estradiol-Sulpiride Treatment and Follicle Ablation on Vernal Transition in Mares: Evaluation of Plasma and Follicular Fluid Hormones and Luteinizing Hormone Receptor Gene Expression

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Abstract

This experiment assessed the hormonal production, secretory aspects, and changes in luteinizing hormone (LH) receptor gene expression of early induced ovulatory-sized follicles relative to the first ovulatory-sized follicles occurring naturally in the spring. Anovulatory mares were treated on January 21 with (1) 50 mg of estradiol cypionate (ECP, n = 8) alone or (2) with ECP followed by two 3-g sulpiride injections (n = 8), 5 and 12 days later. Half of each group also received complete follicle ablation via transvaginal aspiration before ECP treatment. Ovaries were scanned regularly until detection of a 32–35 mm follicle; follicular fluid was recovered via aspiration for analysis of hormonal concentrations. Blood was collected regularly to characterize plasma prolactin, LH, follicle stimulating hormone, progesterone, and estradiol concentrations. Mean date to first 35-mm follicle was earlier (P < .05) in sulpiride-treated mares: five of eight (63%) responded within 28 days of the first sulpiride injection. Ablation did not affect ovarian response. Plasma prolactin was stimulated (P < .0001) in ECP-sulpiride–treated mares for 16 days but did not dictate ovarian response. Estradiol stimulated plasma LH (P < .05), which was higher (P < .05) in treated mares that responded. There was no effect of treatment or ablation on follicular fluid concentrations of estradiol, progesterone, leptin, or insulin-like growth factor 1 or on LH receptor gene expression. These latter similarities indicate that ECP-sulpiride early induced follicles have apparently reached a degree of maturity equivalent to naturally occurring ovulatory-sized follicles later in the spring.

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