Endocrine and paracrine controls of canine follicular development and function

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Canid reproduction is unique among other mammals in that females experience long and variable periods of ovarian inactivity. While the domestic dog exhibits a non-seasonal, largely sporadic monoestrus occurring once or twice a year, most wild canids, such as the gray wolf (Canis lupus) and red wolf (Canis rufus), are seasonal breeders with onset apparently dependent on species, latitudinal location and/or variety of environment factors. Neuroendocrine controls of ovarian functions have been mostly studied in the dog, but less so in their wild counterparts, due to difficulties in regular blood sampling. Yet, development of non-invasive hormone monitoring has advanced the understanding of reproductive cycle in wild canids. Recent advances in in vitro follicle culture technology also have begun to provide insights into paracrine controls of canid ovarian folliculogenesis. This review highlights current knowledge on canid reproduction with emphasis on endocrine and paracrine controls of follicular development. We also discuss future research priorities, including advancing the understanding of anoestrous termination and role of paracrine factors in canine folliculogenesis.

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