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Effect of progesterone on GnRH-mediated LH release, oocyte quality, and fertility in cattle



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The objective was to investigate the effects of progesterone (P4) on luteinizing hormone (LH) release, follicle development, and oocyte competence in cattle. We tested the general hypotheses that: 1) The suppressive effect of P4 on gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH)-mediated LH release can be overcome by increasing GnRH dose or pre-treatment with estradiol (E2); and 2) a shorter period of P4 exposure during the growing phase of the ovulatory follicle improves oocyte competence and fertility after fixed-time artificial insemination or superstimulation in cattle. In the first experiment, heifers (n=22) were treated with 100 or 200 µg of GnRH or pretreated with E2 prior to administration of GnRH during high or low circulating P4 concentrations to characterize LH release (Chapter 2). Increasing the dose of GnRH did not alter LH secretion; however, E2 pretreatment overcame the suppressive effect of high P4 on LH secretion. Cattle with lower (n=11) P4 concentrations had higher circulating LH concentrations than those with higher P4 concentrations (n=11), and tended to have higher ovulation rates. Two experiments were conducted to determine the effect of the duration of P4 exposure during the ovulatory wave on fertility followed fixed-time artificial insemination or superstimulation. In the first experiment (Chapter 3), the dominant follicle was allowed to grow for 3 days (n=181) or 6 days (n=184). Six days of growth resulted in a larger dominant follicle, but in both groups, ovulatory follicles had similar capacities to ovulate and establish pregnancy. In the second experiment (Chapter 4), multiple follicles were allowed to grow for 3 or 6 days by 8 or 14 injections of FSH (at 12-hour intervals). There was no difference between groups for ovulation rate or total ova/embryo recovery rate. Although the 3-day group had higher embryo quality at slaughter (4 days after insemination), further development (7, 9, and 10 days after insemination) did not differ among groups. The effect of FSH starvation following 4 days of FSH treatment (Chapter 4) resulted in loss of ovulatory capability. Overall, a shorter duration of P4 exposure during ovulatory follicle growth did not improve fertility after fixed-time AI or oocyte competence after superstimulation.



cattle, fertility, follicle, GnRH, LH, pregnancy rate, progesterone



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Veterinary Biomedical Sciences


Veterinary Biomedical Sciences


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