Failure to maintain interspecific pregnancy after transfer of Dall's sheep embryos to domestic ewes

in Reproduction

Summary. Over a 3-year period, 32 Dall's sheep (Ovis dalli dalli) embryos were transferred into 24 domestic sheep (O. aries) recipients and 4 were transferred into 2 Dall's sheep recipients. In the first year, none of the 10 O. aries recipients was diagnosed pregnant. In the following 2 years, 9 (37%) of the domestic sheep recipients were pregnant on Day 18, 8 (33%) on Day 40, 6 (25%) on Day 90 and 4 (16%) on Day 120; 1 aborted at Day 125 and another at Day 145. Pregnancies were established only in ewes that had previously been recipients of Dall's sheep embryos. The 2 remaining pregnant sheep were treated with progesterone from Day 125 until the fetuses were determined to be dead at Day 145. Both of the Dall's sheep recipients (Year 2) established pregnancies; 1 live Dall's sheep lamb was born 174 days after mating. No differences in serum progesterone, oestrone, prostaglandin F-2α metabolites or cortisol concentrations could be detected during pregnancy between recipients carrying Dall's sheep embryos, recipients receiving progesterone treatment or domestic ewes carrying domestic sheep pregnancies. Six fetuses were necropsied (1 at Day 125 and 5 at Day 145–146): all fetuses were premature and had various degrees of hydranencephaly. No significant differences were found when cotyledon numbers were compared among domestic ewes carrying Dall's sheep lambs, Dall's sheep ewes lambing naturally and domestic ewes lambing naturally. These results demonstrate that the transfer of Dall's sheep embryos to domestic ewes results in the establishment but subsequent loss of pregnancy and that these losses occur throughout gestation.

Keywords: sheep; embryo transfer; interspecies; pregnancy failure; superovulation

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