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OJ Ginther, BG Woods, C Meira, MA Beg and DR Bergfelt

Follicle growth and circulating hormone concentrations were compared between an interovulatory interval and the first 60 days of the anovulatory season in pony mares. Daily observations were made from November of three groups: (i) ablation of follicles of >/=6 mm in diameter at day 10 after an ovulation that initiated an interovulatory interval, as determined retrospectively (ovulatory group, n=8), (ii) ablation at day 10 after the last ovulation of the year (anovulatory-10 group, n=6); and (iii) ablation at day 60 after the last ovulation of the year (anovulatory-60 group, n=6). Follicular waves were defined as major (dominant follicle) and minor (no dominant follicle). The percentage of mares with major waves after ablation for the ovulatory, anovulatory-10 and anovulatory-60 groups was 100, 33 and 0%, respectively, and the percentage with minor waves was 0, 67 and 100%, respectively. Minor waves were also detected in 83% of anovulatory mares between day 20 and day 60. Growth of the largest follicle was similar for major waves and minor waves but only until the beginning of deviation in the major waves. FSH surges after ablation were similar for all groups and for surges detected during days 20-60. Concentrations of LH were greater in association with major waves than with minor waves. Both diameter of the largest follicle and LH concentrations for minor waves were greater after ablation at day 10 after the last ovulation of the year than after ablation at day 60. The results of this study indicate that major follicular waves developed in some mares early in the anovulatory season and that minor waves developed throughout the first 2 months. Despite similarities in the wave-stimulating FSH surge, differences in follicle growth occurred and were attributable, on a temporal basis, to differences in LH concentrations. A minor wave developed into a major wave when the largest follicle reached a diameter characteristic of the beginning of deviation in the presence of an adequate LH stimulus for continued growth of a dominant follicle.

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MA Beg, C Meira, DR Bergfelt and OJ Ginther

Follicle deviation is characterized by continued growth of the largest (developing dominant) follicle and reduced growth of the smaller (subordinate) follicles. The aim of the present study was to test the following hypotheses: (1). oestradiol contributes to the depression of circulating FSH encompassing follicle deviation and (2). oestradiol plays a role in the initiation of deviation. Heifers were treated with progesterone (n = 5) or antiserum against oestradiol (n = 7) or given no treatment (control; n = 6). On the basis of previous studies, progesterone treatment would decrease LH and thereby the circulatory and intrafollicular concentrations of oestradiol and the antiserum would reduce the availability of oestradiol. Progesterone was given in six 75 mg injections at 12 h intervals beginning when the largest follicle of wave 1 first reached >or=5.7 mm (t = 0 h). Oestradiol antiserum (100 ml) was given in a single injection at t = 12 h. Follicles of the wave were defined as F1 (largest) and F2, according to the diameter at each examination. Blood samples were collected at 12 h intervals during t = 0-72 h. Treatment with progesterone lowered the circulatory concentrations of LH by 12 h after the start of treatment (P < 0.05), and concentrations remained low compared with those of controls during the treatment period. Treatment with oestradiol antiserum had no effect on LH. Both progesterone and the antiserum treatments increased the FSH concentrations compared with controls (P < 0.05), which supports the first hypothesis. The interval from t = 0 h to the beginning of deviation was longer in the progesterone- (51.0 +/- 7.6 h; P < 0.06) and antiserum (51.4 +/- 6.3 h; P < 0.05)-treated groups than in the controls (38.0 +/- 3.7 h), which supports the second hypothesis. There was no difference among groups in the diameters of F1 and F2 at deviation. Reduced diameter (P < 0.05 or P < 0.06) of both F1 and F2 occurred in both the progesterone- and antiserum-treated groups at t = 36 h and 48 h, compared with controls. Follicle retardation occurred in both the progesterone- and antiserum-treated groups despite the high FSH concentrations, whereas LH was altered only in the progesterone-treated group. Therefore, the follicle effect can be attributed to inadequate intrafollicular oestradiol. This interpretation implies a functional local role for oestradiol in the deviation process, independent of the systemic negative effect on FSH.