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  • Author: A Shaham-Albalancy x
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D. Wolfenson, H. Sonego, A. Shaham-Albalancy, Y. Shpirer and R. Meidan

This study, compared the endocrine function of dominant follicles of the first and second follicular waves (DF1 and DF2, respectively) and the corpora lutea that were subsequently formed. In the experiments conducted in vitro, ovaries were collected from dairy cows on day 6.1 ±0.2 or day 14.8 ±0.2 of the oestrous cycle to obtain steroidogenically active DF1 (n = 8) and DF2 (n = 7). Granulosa and thecal cells were isolated, dispersed and incubated for 16 h with testosterone (granulosa cells) or forskolin or bLH (thecal cells). Both types of cell were subsequently cultured for 9 days with forskolin and insulin. The viability of the granulosa cells was similar in DF1 and DF2, but the concentration of oestradiol in the follicular fluid was higher in DF1 than in DF2. Production of oestradiol and progesterone by granulosa cells was similar in DF1 and DF2, but androstenedione and progesterone production by thecal cells were 3.5-6.5-fold higher in DF1 than in DF2. During the 9 days of luteinization, progesterone production was similar in DF1- and DF2-derived granulosa cells, but was two- to three-fold higher in DF1- than in DF2-derived thecal cells. Experiments were also conducted in vivo. In Expt 1 in vivo, lactating cows that were assigned to ovulate DF1 or DF2 (n = 9 and 13 in replicate 1 and 2, respectively) were injected with PGF on days 6 and 7 or on days 14 and 15 of the oestrous cycle, respectively. A wave by replicate interaction was detected for plasma progesterone concentration in the subsequent cycle: in the first replicate, progesterone production was approximately 40% higher in cows that ovulated DF1; in the second replicate, progesterone production was similar in cows that ovulated DF1 or DF2. In Expt 2, pooled plasma progesterone in the mid-luteal phase (days 12-15) after insemination of pregnant and non-pregnant cows was approximately 30% higher in cows that had ovulated DF1 (n = 32) than in cows that had ovulated DF2 (n = 22). This study showed DF1 had a higher steroidogenic capacity compared with DF2, which may be related to the hormonal environment in which the follicles developed.

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A Shaham-Albalancy, Y Folman, M Kaim, M Rosenberg and D Wolfenson

Low progesterone concentrations during the bovine oestrous cycle induce enhanced responsiveness to oxytocin challenge late in the luteal phase of the same cycle. The delayed effect of low progesterone concentrations during one oestrous cycle on uterine PGF(2alpha) secretion after oxytocin challenge on day 15 or 16 of the subsequent cycle was studied by measuring the concentrations of the major PGF(2alpha) metabolite (13,14-dihydro-15-keto PGF(2alpha); PGFM) in plasma. Two experiments were conducted, differing in the type of progesterone treatment and in the shape of the low progesterone concentration curves. In Expt 1, progesterone supplementation with intravaginal progesterone inserts, with or without an active corpus luteum, was used to obtain high, or low and constant plasma progesterone concentrations, respectively. In Expt 2, untreated cows, representing high progesterone treatment, were compared with cows that had low but increasing plasma progesterone concentrations that were achieved by manipulating endogenous progesterone secretion of the corpus luteum. Neither experiment revealed any differences in plasma progesterone concentrations between the high and low progesterone groups in the subsequent oestrous cycle. In both experiments, both groups had similar basal concentrations of PGFM on day 15 (Expt 1) or 16 (Expt 2) of the subsequent oestrous cycle, 18 days after progesterone treatments had ended. In both experiments, the increases in PGFM concentrations in the low progesterone groups after an oxytocin challenge were markedly higher than in the high progesterone groups. These results indicate that low progesterone concentrations during an oestrous cycle have a delayed stimulatory effect on uterine responsiveness to oxytocin during the late luteal phase of the subsequent cycle. This resulting increase in PGF(2alpha) secretion may interfere with luteal maintenance during the early stages of pregnancy.

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Z Roth, R Meidan, A Shaham-Albalancy, R Braw-Tal and D Wolfenson

During the autumn, the conception rate of dairy cattle in warm countries is low although ambient temperatures have decreased and cows are no longer exposed to summer thermal stress, indicating that there may be a delayed effect of heat stress on cattle fertility. Two experiments were conducted to examine possible delayed effects of heat stress on follicular characteristics and steroid production at two distinct stages of follicular growth: medium-sized and preovulatory follicles, 20 and 26 days after heat exposure, respectively. Lactating cows were subjected to heat stress for 12 h a day in an environmental chamber, during days 2-6 of a synchronized oestrous cycle. In Expt 1, ovaries were collected on day 3 of the subsequent cycle, before selection of the dominant follicle, and medium-sized follicles were classified as atretic or healthy. In Expt 2, on day 7 of the subsequent cycle, PGF(2a) was administered and preovulatory follicles were collected 40 h later. In both experiments, follicular fluid was aspirated, granulosa and thecal cells were incubated, and steroid production was determined. In healthy medium-sized follicles (Expt 1), oestradiol production by granulosa cells and androstenedione production by thecal cells were lower (P < 0.05) and the concentration of progesterone in the follicular fluid was higher in cows that had been previously heat-stressed than in control cows (P < 0.05). In preovulatory follicles (Expt 2), the viability of granulosa cells was lower (P < 0.05) and the concentration of androstenedione in the follicular fluid and its production by thecal cells were lower (P < 0.05) in cows that had been previously heat-stressed than in control cows. In both experiments, the oestradiol concentrations in the follicular fluids were not altered by heat stress. These results demonstrate a delayed effect of heat stress on steroid production and follicular characteristics in both medium-sized and preovulatory follicles; this effect could be related to the low fertility of cattle in the autumn.