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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