The objective of this study was to characterize the uterine leukocyte influx after artificial insemination (AI). After detection of oestrus with a boar at intervals of 1.5 h, seventy-two gilts were randomly assigned to a 2×3×4 factorial arrangement. AI was performed with 100 ml extended semen containing 5 × 109 spermatozoa (semen; n = 36) or 100 ml VSP semen extender (extender; n = 36) at one of three times after detection of oestrus: 12, 24 or 36 h (n = 24/time). The uterus was lavaged at 6, 12, 18 or 24 h (n = 18/time) after AI to determine the total number of uterine leukocytes. In addition, uterine lavage was performed on nine untreated gilts immediately after the detection of oestrus to establish a baseline number of leukocytes. The leukocyte response in all samples consisted predominately (92–99%) of polymorphonuclear neutrophilic granulocytes (PMNs). The mean number of PMNs recovered from the uteri of gilts treated with semen was greater than in gilts treated with extender and in untreated gilts (P < 0.01). The greatest number of PMNs in semen-treated gilts was found 12 h after AI (P < 0.01), and this number was sustained for 24 h. In contrast, the number of uterine PMNs recovered from extender-treated gilts reached a peak at 6 h and had declined by 12 h after AI (P < 0.05). It was concluded that an extensive influx of PMNs into the uterus is a normal sequence to AI. The consequences and importance of semen-induced uterine leukocytosis needs further investigation.
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