Three peptide sequences from the bovine inhibin α-subunit (P1: 18–30; P2: 63–72 and P3: 107–122) were synthesized and conjugated to human serum albumin (HSA). Hereford crossheifers (n = 5 per group) were injected with 3 mg of one of the peptide conjugates, followed by three booster injections at intervals of 11 weeks. Control heifers (n = 5) were injected with HSA only. Antibodies recognizing both the individual peptides and 32 kDa bovine inhibin were generated and ovulation rate was increased in peptide immunized heifers. In group P1, 1 of 5 heifers responded with an increased ovulation rate whereas in groups P2 and P3, 5 of 5 and 4 of 5 heifers, respectively, had an increased ovulation rate. In group P2, in the first oestrous cycle following booster injections 2 and 3, 4 of 5 and 3 of 5 heifers, respectively, responded with twin ovulations, whereas a fourth heifer had three ovulations following booster injection 3. After breeding following booster injection 3, 3 of 5 heifers in group P2 and 1 of 5 in group P3 gave birth to twin calves. This study demonstrates the potential of immunizing against synthetic peptide sequences of the α-subunit of bovine inhibin to increase ovulation and twinning rates in cattle.
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