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An ultrasonographic study of luteal function in breeds of sheep with different ovulation rates

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Andrew Beard


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Development and demise of luteal structures were monitored using daily transrectal ultrasonography in 2 breeds of sheep differing in ovulation rates (nonprolific Western white-faced cross-bred, n=12 and prolific pure-bred Finn sheep, n=7), during 1 estrous cycle in the mid-breeding season. Jugular blood samples were collected once a day for radioimmunoassay (RIA) of progesterone. The mean diameter of ovulatory follicles was higher in Western white-faced than in Finn ewes (6.4 ± 0.2 and 5.3 ± 0.2 mm, respectively; P<0.001). The mean volume of luteal structures was higher (P<0.05) in Western white-faced compared with Finn sheep from Days 5 to 15 of the cycle (Day 0=day of ovulation). This accounted for the higher (P<0.05) total luteal volumes recorded in Western white-faced ewes on Day 7 and from Days 11 to 15, despite the higher ovulation rate in Finn ewes (2.7 ± 0.3 and 1.7 ± 0.2, respectively; P<0.05). Mean serum progesterone concentrations were higher (P<0.05) in Western white-faced than in Finn ewes from Days 4 to 14. Daily total luteal volumes were positively correlated with daily serum progesterone concentrations throughout the cycle in Finn sheep (r≥0.40, P<0.02), and during luteal growth and regression (r>0.60, P≤0.00001) but not during mid- cycle in white-faced ewes (r=0.16; P=0.22). During the growth of the corpora lutea (CL), luteal tissue volume increased faster (P<0.05) than serum progesterone concentrations in both breeds of sheep. During luteolysis, the decrease in luteal volumes parallelled that in serum progesterone concentrations in Finn (P=0.11) but not in Western white-faced ewes, where luteal volumes decreased more slowly (P=0.02) in relation to progesterone secretion. Increased ovulation rate in prolific Finn ewes resulted in more but smaller CL, and lower serum progesterone levels compared with nonprolific Western white-faced ewes. We conclude that breed-specific mechanisms exist to control the formation of luteal tissue and progesterone secretion in cyclic ewes differing in prolificacy. The mechanisms may involve ovulation of Graafian follicles at different sizes and inhibitory paracrine effects of CL on co-existing CL.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bartlewski PM, Beard AP, Rawlings NC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Theriogenology

Year: 1999

Volume: 52

Issue: 1

Pages: 115-130

Print publication date: 01/07/1999

ISSN (print): 0093-691X

ISSN (electronic): 1879-3231

Publisher: Elsevier Inc.


DOI: 10.1016/S0093-691X(99)00114-4

PubMed id: 10734410


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