Reproduction in Domestic Animals

Published by Wiley
Online ISSN: 1439-0531
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Article
Twenty-two boar ejaculates were frozen in 0.25 ml straws using a controlled cooling rate, then evaluated in vitro in order to assess: (i) the extent to which a range of semen evaluation parameters accurately characterize sperm quality, (ii) the value of quality assessment in the characterization of long-term sperm survival and fertility and (iii) the suitability of the cryopreservation protocol used for yielding semen with good quality and fertilizing capacity. Motility with or without caffeine, plasma membrane integrity (PMI) evaluated with both propidium iodide (PI) and Hoechst 33258, and acrosome morphology were studied, the ejaculates being then classified into five quality groups. A thermoresistance test and a homologous in vitro fertilization test were applied to selected ejaculates of these groups. Caffeine-stimulated motility and PMI evaluated with PI provided better estimations of semen quality than the other tests of motility, PMI, or acrosome morphology, but this quality assessment could not reveal differences in fertilizing capacity or thermoresistance among ejaculates. Over 43% spermatozoa survived cryopreservation in 19 of the 22 ejaculates, with inter-boar and inter-ejaculate variability in the freezing success being observed. The fertilizing capacity, however, was seriously affected by the process regardless of the semen quality. It is concluded that caffeine-stimulated motility and PMI evaluated with PI give accurate information on sperm quality, but important aspects to the valuation of semen such as thermoresistance and fertilizing capacity are not revealed by this quality study. Moreover, the approach of selecting suitable protocols of cryopreservation does not appear to be sufficient for guaranteeing systematically good quality and fertilizing capacity in the frozen-thawed semen.
 
Article
The aim of this study was to evaluate the straw size effect used for freezing on the in vitro fertilizing capacity. Twenty-one ejaculates from seven fertile boars were frozen under controlled conditions in 0.5 and 5 ml straws. Thawed semen was compared to fresh semen. For fresh and thawed semen in 0.5 and 5 ml straws, the results were: 92.18, 77.38 and 79.04% sperm penetration; 80.68, 66.89 and 69.33% monospermy; 11.51, 10.49 and 9.74% polyspermy; 86.19, 47.14 and 47.02% motility and 75.52, 48.19 and 46.81% normal apical ridge (NAR), respectively. Analysis of variance and test of multiple comparisons showed that under the conditions employed, penetration, monospermy, motility and NAR were significantly reduced by freezing-thawing, but polyspermy was much less affected. The results obtained suggest that frozen boar semen is adequate for in vitro fertilization. In addition freezing in 5 ml straws did not have any detrimental effect on either penetration, monospermy, polyspermy, motility and NAR, in comparison with freezing in 0.5 ml straws.
 
Motility, viability and membrane integrity in fresh and cryopreserved buffalo spermatozoa. The results were compared in the absence (Cryo-control) and presence of additives viz. trehalose or taurine in the extender following cryopreservation. Values are means ± Standard Error Mean (SEM) of nine replicates. Means with different letters are significantly different (p < 0.001)
Article
In mammalian spermatozoa, intracellular calcium plays a major role in sperm functions like motility and capacitation. Cryopreservation-induced modifications to sperm membrane result in an influx of intracellular calcium affecting calcium-dependent intracellular signalling pathways. Intracellular calcium activates adenyl cyclase to produce cAMP that activates phospholipase A(2) (PLA(2) ) and phospholipase C (PLC) generating lysophosphatidyl choline, 1,2-diacylglycerol (DAG) and IP(3) , acting as intracellular secondary messengers required for sperm capacitation. Present study was designed to determine levels of intracellular calcium, cAMP and DAG in fresh and frozen-thawed buffalo spermatozoa cryopreserved in the presence and absence of taurine or trehalose. A total number of nine ejaculates from three randomly chosen buffalo bulls were cryopreserved in Tris-based egg yolk extender and thawed in warm water at 37°C. The cAMP was measured by enzyme immuno assay, and intracellular calcium was quantified using fluorescent dye FURA 2-AM. Total lipid was extracted from spermatozoa, and DAG was estimated using thin layer chromatography followed by spectrophotometric analysis. Intracellular calcium, cAMP and DAG levels in spermatozoa were significantly (p < 0.01) increased following cryopreservation as compared to fresh ejaculate. Addition of taurine or trehalose to the freezing medium significantly decreased (p < 0.01) the levels of intracellular calcium and cAMP in frozen-thawed spermatozoa. 1,2-diacylglycerol content was also decreased significantly (p < 0.01) in spermatozoa cryopreserved in presence of additives. Moreover, significant (p < 0.01) improvement in post-thaw motility, viability and membrane integrity of spermatozoa on addition of taurine or trehalose clearly indicated the reduced level of capacitation-like changes in buffalo spermatozoa.
 
Article
Beta1,4-galactosyltransferase-I (B4GALT1), one of seven beta1,4-galactosyltransferases, is an enzyme commonly found in the trans-Golgi complex that adds galactose to oligosaccharides. In the three mammals studied to date, the B4GALT1 gene directs production of B4GALT1 protein using either of two transcription start sites. The product of the smaller transcript serves the traditional biosynthetic role in the Golgi. This form also complexes with alpha-lactalbumin, a mammary-specific protein, to form lactose synthase. In addition to a biosynthetic role, the protein translated from the longer transcript appears on the plasma membranes of some cells where it serves as a signalling receptor in cell-matrix interactions such as sperm-egg binding. The objective of this study was to sequence the protein-coding region of porcine B4GALT1 and examine the sequence for relationships to the bovine, human, murine and chicken B4GALT1 genes. The sequence for the 1203 base pair protein-coding region of porcine B4GALT1 was obtained. Analysis of the deduced protein sequences revealed that the transmembrane region displayed the highest identity between the four mammals. The catalytic domain was 84-88% identical between the porcine sequence and those of the bovine, human and mouse. The porcine protein had the lowest overall homology to the chicken amino acid sequence, 58% identity. Conservation of both transcription start sites in the porcine gene supports the existence of two isoforms. When compared to the other mammalian B4GALT1 genes, the porcine coding sequence contained a single threonine codon inserted into the region encoding the cytoplasmic domain. Two putative phosphorylation sites in the mouse cytoplasmic domain were conserved in the porcine sequence. Northern blots revealed a widely expressed 4.4 kb transcript that was more abundant in the mammary gland during lactation. These results are important for studies of the function of this unusual and important glycosyltransferase during glycoprotein biosynthesis, lactation and fertilization.
 
Article
This study evaluated the reproductive performance of gilts inseminated at three intervals before ovulation (0-12, 13-23, 24-30 h) with sperm doses (SD) stored for 0-48 and 96-120 h. A total of 218 PIC Camborough 22 gilts were inseminated once with SD of 1.5 x 10(9) sperms. Pregnant gilts (n = 166) were slaughtered 30.8 +/- 3.7 days after artificial insemination. The number of corpora lutea (CL) and total embryos (TE) was counted. Pregnancy rates (PR) were analysed by chi-square test. TE and embryonic survival (ES), obtained as the ratio between viable embryos and CL, were analysed by GLM procedure (SAS) and mean values were compared by Tukey's test. Pregnancy rate was similar among artificial insemination-ovulation (AIOV) intervals when semen was stored for 0-48 h. However, the lowest PR was observed in the 24-30 h AIOV interval with storage time (ST) of 96-120 h (p < 0.05). There was a significant effect of the interaction between ST and AIOV (p < 0.05) on TE and ES variables. Total embryos and ES did not differ (p > 0.05) among AIOV intervals in ST of 0-48 h. However, gilts inseminated at 24-30 h AIOV interval with ST of 96-120 h showed a reduction of 6.7 embryos (p < 0.05) compared with gilts in the same interval inseminated with semen stored for 0-48 h. ES for the 24-30 h AIOV interval and ST of 96-120 h was lower than that observed in the other groups (p < 0.05).
 
Article
The aim of present study was to evaluate frozen canine semen with ACP-106 (Powder Coconut Water) using an in vitro sperm--oocyte interaction assay (SOIA). Ten ejaculates from five stud dogs were diluted in ACP-106 containing 20% egg yolk, submitted to cooling in a thermal box for 40 min and in a refrigerator for 30 min. After this period, a second dilution was performed using ACP-106 containing 20% egg yolk and 12% glycerol. Samples were thawed at 38 degrees C for 1 min. Post-thaw motility was evaluated by light microscopy and by using a computer aided semen analysis (CASA). Plasma membrane integrity and sperm morphology/acrosomal status were evaluated by fluorescent probes (C-FDA/PI) and Bengal Rose respectively. Moreover, frozen-thawed semen was analysed by a SOIA. Subjective post-thaw motility was 52.0 +/- 14.8% and it was significant higher than the total motility estimated by CASA (23.0 +/- 14.8%) because this system considered the egg yolk debris as immotile spermatozoa. Although normal sperm rate and acrosomal integrity evaluated by Bengal Rose stain was 89.6 +/- 3.1% and 94.3 +/- 3.1%, respectively, post-thaw percentage of intact plasma membrane was only 35.1 +/- 14.3%. Regarding SOIA, the percentage of interacted oocytes (bound, penetrated and bound and/or penetrated) was 75.3%. Using regression analysis, it was found significant relations between some CASA patterns and data for SOIA. In conclusion, the freezing-thawing procedure using ACP-106 was efficient for maintain the in vitro fertility potential of dog spermatozoa.
 
Article
The aim of this study was to evaluate powdered coconut water extender (ACP-106c; ACP Serviços Tecnológicos Ltda, ACP Biotecnologia, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil) as a diluent for freezing dog semen and the fertility after vaginal insemination of semen frozen therein. Ten ejaculates were collected from five dogs, evaluated fresh, diluted in ACP-106c, 10% egg yolk and 6% glycerol, cooled and frozen. In the first phase of the study, straws with frozen semen were thawed and immediately subjected to the same analysis as the fresh semen and, in addition, to Computer-Assisted Semen Analysis (CASA). In phase 2, 10 bitches that had been subjected to natural breeding during a preceding oestrous cycle were vaginally inseminated with thawed semen that had been re-diluted in ACP-106c. After thawing, a mean of 77% sperm motility was obtained through subjective analysis and 77.3% through CASA. Following artificial insemination, a 60% pregnancy rate was observed, resulting in a 50% parturition rate and a mean litter size of 3.4 (SEM 0.6), with 47.1% males and 52.9% females. ACP-106c can be successfully used for freezing canine semen, and vaginal deposition of such semen yields similar pregnancy rates to those reported in other studies.
 
Article
PDC-109, one of the most abundant proteins in bovine seminal plasma, has detrimental effect on spermatozoa in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Therefore, we hypothesized that sequestration of detrimental protein from ejaculates would be beneficial following cryopreservation of sperm cells. To this aim, we evaluated the effect of sequestration of PDC-109 either by anti-PDC-109 antibodies (Ab) or egg yolk (EY) alone or by the synergistic action of EY + Ab in minimizing cryoinjury to bull spermatozoa. PDC-109 protein was purified by applying two-step chromatography procedures. The purified protein was injected in rabbits to raise antibodies which were isolated using ion-exchange chromatography. After checking the Ab cross-reactivity, they were quantitated and added to ejaculates, either alone or in addition to EY in Tris-glycerol (TG) extender. Thus, ejaculates were processed in extender containing EY + TG (group I), Ab + TG (group II) or EY + Ab + TG (group III). Semen quality parameters (SQPs) viz. viability and acrosome integrity (FITC-PSA), cryoinjury to spermatozoa (chlortetracycline, CTC assay) and in vitro fertility of protein-sequestered-semen (zona-penetration assay) were evaluated. A significant (p < 0.05) improvement in post-thaw SQPs as well as in non-capacitated spermatozoa observed at pre-freeze and post-thaw stages of cryopreservation in group III compared with other groups indicated reduction in protein-mediated cryoinjury. From this study, it can be concluded that sequestration of PDC-109 by synergistic action of EY+Ab as compared to either of them alone significantly improve sperm quality and minimize cryoinjury to bull spermatozoa upon storage at ultra-low temperatures.
 
Article
Semen samples collected postmortem from 142 yearling beef bulls (11-13 months old) of three different breeds (Charolais, Hereford and Simmental) were examined to evaluate the proportion of bulls with mature spermiograms. Before slaughter, testes and epididymides were clinically examined and scrotal circumferences were measured. Aliquots of the cauda epididymal contents taken postmortem were used for sperm morphology examination. Sperm head morphology was studied in dry smears stained with carbol-fuchsine. For each preparation, 500 spermatozoa were counted in each smear under light microscope (x 1000). The presence of proximal cytoplasmic droplets, abnormal acrosomes, detached heads and abnormalities of the midpiece and tail were recorded in wet preparations of formol-saline-fixed spermatozoa. For each preparation, 200 spermatozoa were counted in each preparation under a phase-contrast microscope (x 1000). The abnormalities were classified according to a classification system developed by Bane (1961). Morphological abnormalities were recorded as a percentage of the total number of counted spermatozoa. Criteria for a spermiogram to be considered mature included <15% abnormal heads and <15% proximal droplets. According to this definition approximately 48% (68 of 142) of the examined bulls were considered mature. The bulls in this study represent approximately one-fifth of the total amount of performance-tested beef bulls in Sweden during 5 years. Our results indicate that only less than half of the Swedish yearling beef bulls at the testing station appear to have a mature spermiogram at the time they are offered for breeding purposes.
 
Article
Glucocorticoids (GCs) as mediators of the stress response may affect Leydig cell function by inhibiting either luteinizing hormone receptor expression or testosterone biosynthesis. The isozymes 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11βHSD) 1 and 11βHSD2 control the intracellular cortisol levels. Little is known about the effects of stress on fertility in the equine. The objective of the present study was to determine the presence and cellular localization of glucocorticoid receptors (GCR) and glucocorticoid-metabolizing enzymes (11βHSD1 and 11βHSD2) in equine epididymal and testicular tissue with special regard to sexual maturation. Testicular and epididymal tissue was collected from 21 healthy stallions, and four age groups were designed: pre-pubertal, young, mature and older horses. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) analysis and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) were used. Pre-pubertal horses showed higher testicular gene expression of 11βHSD1, 11βHSD2 and GCR than horses of all other groups (p < 0.05). A positive intranuclear immunoreaction for GCR was seen in epithelial cells of caput, corpus and cauda epididymidis and in Leydig cells. Significant differences (p < 0.05) between age groups occurred. The number of Leydig cells staining positive for GCR was highest in immature stallions (p < 0.05). The enzyme 11βHSD1 was localized in epithelial cells of the caput and corpus epididymidis and in Leydig cells. As determined by enzyme assay, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)-dependant dehydrogenase (oxidation) activity was not detected in testicular tissue from immature stallions but in all other age groups (n = 3 per group). Results of this study suggest a contribution of GCs to maturation of male reproductive tissue in horses. In mature stallions, expression of 11βHSD enzymes and the oxidative 11βHSD activity in Leydig cells and epididymal basal and principal cells suggest a protective role on these tissues contributing to physiological intracellular glucocorticoid concentrations.
 
Article
Glucocorticoids (GCs) are important mediators of the stress response and have been implicated in the function and regulation of testicular functions in different species. In many tissues, intracellular glucocorticoid activity is controlled by either or both of the two known isoforms of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11βHSD) type 1 and 2, which interconvert active and inactive GCs. Little is known about the effects of stress on fertility in the equine species. The main objective of the present study was to investigate the expression of receptors for GCs and adrenocorticotropic hormone [ACTH, melanocortin 2 receptor (MC2R)] as well 11βHSD1 and 11βHSD2 in male equine epididymal and testicular tissue. In addition, expression of aromatase P-450 and receptors for luteinizing hormone (LHR), follicle stimulating hormone (FSHR) and growth hormone (GHR) was studied. Reverse transcriptase PCR and quantitative real-time PCR were performed in tissue from the epididymis (caput and cauda) and testes collected from nine healthy mature stallions (age 4-10 years). mRNA for ACTH and GC receptors as well as 11βHSD1 and -2 were found in epididymal and testicular tissue. Expression of the genes studied was always positive in testicular tissue, while it was inconsistent in epididymal tissue. Quantitative gene expression in relation to β-actin and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) was significantly correlated (R = 0.403, p < 0.001). Quantitative PCR in relation to β-actin revealed significant differences in the gene expression of 11βHSD1, 11βHSD2, LHR, FSHR, MC2R and aromatase between tissue collected from caput epididymidis, cauda epididymidis and testicular parenchyma (p < 0.05). With GAPDH, differences between tissues were significant for 11βHSD1, 11βHSD2 and MC2R (p < 0.05) In addition, high concentrations of mRNA of aromatase and receptors of LH and FSH were found in testicular tissue, while a pronounced expression of GH receptor was present in epididymal tissue. The results support the hypothesis of an interaction between the pituitary-adrenal axis and testicular function in the stallion.
 
Article
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of ram introduction after the second prostaglandin F2alpha (PG F2alpha) injection on day 11 on the secretion characteristics of pre-ovulatory LH surge of fat-tailed ewes. Multiparous Morkaraman ewes (n=12) were divided into three groups by balancing the groups for liveweight (BW) and body condition score (BCS). On the day of second PGF2 alpha injection (0 h), performance tested rams (n=2) were either introduced to the ewes at 0 h (ram 0 group, n=4) or at 18 h (ram 18 group, n=4) or were not introduced (control group, n=4). Blood samples were collected at 6, 18, 42, 48, 56, 62, 66, 70, 74, 78 and 90 h for the determination of pre-ovulatory LH surge. BCS and BW during the experimental period were 2.2 +/- 0.2 units and 50.9 +/- 2.3 kg, 2.4 +/- 0.4 units and 49.2 +/- 6.2 kg, 2.1 +/- 0.3 units and 45.9 +/- 4.4 kg, respectively for the ram 0, ram 18 and control groups (p > 0.05). No significant difference was observed in LH surge characteristics for the experimental groups. Peak LH concentrations were also not different between groups (p > 0.05) and they were 12.2 +/- 8.3, 29.1 +/- 9.9 and 15.8 +/- 9.5 microg/l for the ram 0, ram 18 and control groups, respectively. There was, however, a significant correlation between peak LH concentrations and BCS (p < 0.05, R2=0.373). In conclusion, it appears that, compared with ram introduction, variability in body condition of the ewe has much pronounced effect on the amount of LH secreted after the usage of two PGF2 alpha injections (11 days apart) as a tool for oestrus synchronization.
 
Article
Embryo implantation is critical for the successful establishment of pregnancy. Interleukin-11 (IL-11) is essential for adequate decidualization in the mouse and human via binding to the specific IL-11 receptor alpha (IL-11Ralpha). But the expression and regulation of IL-11 and IL-11Ralpha in the canine endometrium remain unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the differential expression of IL-11Ralpha in canine uterus during early pregnancy and its regulation under different conditions by in situ hybridization. Interleukin-11Ralpha mRNA was mainly localized in glandular epithelium in canine uterus. There was a low level of IL-11Ralpha expression in the glandular epithelium on days 6, 12 and 17 of pregnancy. On day 20 of pregnancy when embryo implanted, IL-11Ralpha mRNA was highly expressed in the glandular epithelium surrounding the embryo, but not in the luminal epithelium and stroma. On day 23 of pregnancy, the expression of IL-11Ralpha mRNA maintained a constant level compared with the expression of day 20 and increased on day 28 of pregnancy. During the oestrous cycle, a high level of IL-11Ralpha mRNA expression was seen in the oestrous uterus. Progesterone slightly induced the expression of IL-11Ralpha mRNA in the ovariectomized canine uterus. These results suggest that IL-11Ralpha expression is closely related to canine implantation and up-regulated by progesterone.
 
Article
Ten gestations in six domestic shorthair cats (Europeans) were monitored daily during the foetal phase of gestation, from the 28th day after the first mating until parturition, using ultrasound with a 12.5-MHz probe. The development of the various organs over this period was recorded. The diameters of the head (HD) and abdomen (AD) were measured. Skeletal calcification visible on ultrasound occurred in a defined order between the 34th and 40th day of gestation. During the last 30 days of gestation, there was a significant correlation between HD and days before parturition (DBP) (r(2) = 0.99) and between AD and DBP (r(2) = 0.98). The following equations were obtained: DBP = -2.10*HD (mm) + 50.74; DBP = -1.01*AD (mm) + 42.19. The confidence intervals were stable over the last 30 days of gestation. For the HD, the confidence interval was ±1 day in 53% of cases and ±2 days in 85% of cases. For the AD, the confidence interval was ±1 day in 45% of cases and ±2 days in 77% of cases. A table obtained by combining the HD and AD measurements made it possible to estimate the date of parturition within 2 days with a reliability of over 85%. © 2015 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.
 
Article
The present study sought to determine: (i) the effects of Neospora caninum infection and twin pregnancy on plasma pregnancy-associated glycoprotein-2 (PAG-2) concentrations throughout pregnancy and (ii) whether plasma PAG-2 concentrations could predict abortion in N. caninum-infected cows. The study was performed on a commercial Holstein-Friesian dairy herd in northeastern Spain and the final data included those recorded in 53 non-aborting and 19 aborting animals. Blood samples were collected immediately before pregnancy diagnosis (on Days 40, 90, 120, 150, 180 and 210 post-insemination) in non-aborting cows or until the time of abortion detection in aborting cows. General lineal models (GLM) repeated measures anova revealed the different behaviour of PAG-1 and PAG-2, and significant effects of Neospora seropositivity, cool season and twin pregnancy on plasma PAG-2 concentrations throughout gestation (between-subject effects). In addition, based on the odds ratios, the likelihood of abortion increased in Neospora-seropositive cows (by a factor of 7.0) compared to seronegative animals and decreased in cows with a high plasma PAG-2 concentration (>4.5 ng/ml) on Day 120 of pregnancy (by a factor of 0.24), compared to the remaining cows. In conclusion, there is a relationship between plasma PAG-2 concentrations and the risk of abortion in Neospora-infected dairy cows. Thus, plasma PAG concentrations measured using anti-boPAG-2 antiserum on Day 120 of gestation could serve as an indicator of the abortion risk in N. caninum infected animals; values <4.5 ng/ml indicating a high risk of abortion in chronically infected animals.
 
Article
An attempt was made to determine plasma concentrations of, 13, 14-dihydro-15-keto-prostaglandin F(2alpha) (PGFM), cortisol and progesterone during periparturient period in yak. Plasma PGFM level showed an increasing trend beginning day 5 prior to parturition (0.48 +/- 0.14 ng/ml) and increased steeply thereafter to reach a peak level (17.16 +/- 1.31 ng/ml) on the day of parturition. The levels, then, declined sharply on day 1 postpartum to reach 1.20 +/- 0.40 ng/ml and thereafter declined gradually over the days to reach 0.28 +/- 0.09 ng/ml on day 20 postpartum and this level was maintained with fluctuation within narrow limits thereafter till conclusion of the blood sampling on day 90 post-calving. The plasma progesterone concentration on days 7 and 6 before parturition was high (2.10 +/- 0.10 and 2.12 +/- 0.10 ng/ml, respectively). The level then decreased gradually and abrupt fall was observed 1-2 days before parturition and became basal on day of parturition (0.24 +/- 0.04 ng/ml). This basal level was maintained till the end of the blood sampling on day 90 postpartum. Plasma cortisol level showed an increasing trend beginning day 2 prior to parturition (2.36 +/- 0.65 ng/ml) and increased steeply thereafter to reach a peak level (26.65 +/- 5.28 ng/ml) on the day of parturition. The levels, then, declined gradually over the days and touched 2.36 +/- 0.25 ng/ml on day 3 postpartum and this level was maintained with fluctuation within narrow limits thereafter till day 7 post-calving.
 
Article
The study evaluated, in early post-partum anoestrous Nelore cows, if the increase in plasma oestradiol (E2) concentrations in the pre-ovulatory period and/or progesterone priming (P4 priming) preceding ovulation, induced by hormonal treatment, reduces the endogenous release of prostaglandin PGF(2)α and prevents premature lysis of the corpus luteum (CL). Nelore cows were subjected to temporary calf removal for 48 h and divided into two groups: GPE/eCG group (n = 10) and GPG/eCG group (n = 10). Animals of the GPE/eCG group were treated with a GnRH agonist. Seven days later, they received 400 IU of eCG, immediately after PGF(2)α treatment, and on day 0, 1.0 mg of oestradiol benzoate (EB). Cows of the GPG/eCG group were similarly treated as those of the GPE/eCG group, except that EB was replaced with a second dose of GnRH. All animals were challenged with oxytocin (OT) 9, 12, 15 and 18 days after EB or GnRH administration and blood samples were collected before and 30 min after OT. Irrespective of the treatments, a decline in P4 concentration on day 18 was observed for cows without P4 priming. However, animals exposed to P4 priming, treated with EB maintained high P4 concentrations (8.8 ± 1.2 ng/ml), whereas there was a decline in P4 on day 18 (2.1 ± 1.0 ng/ml) for cows that received GnRH to induce ovulation (p < 0.01). Production of 13,14-dihydro-15-keto prostaglandin F(2)α (PGFM) in response to OT increased between days 9 and 18 (p < 0.01), and this increase tended to be more evident in animals not exposed to P4 priming (p < 0.06). In conclusion, the increase in E2 during the pre-ovulatory period was not effective in inhibiting PGFM release, which was lower in P4-primed than in non-primed animals. Treatment with EB promoted the maintenance of elevated P4 concentrations 18 days after ovulation in P4-primed animals, indicating a possible beneficial effect of hormone protocols containing EB in animals with P4 priming.
 
Article
This study was carried out to assess the in vitro quality of canine semen frozen in an ultrafreezer at -152 degrees C and to evaluate the male-to-male variation of frozen semen in five male dogs of the Canarian Mastiff breed. Four ejaculates of each dog were processed individually (5% glycerol and 0.5% Equex) to reach a final concentration of 100 x 10(6) spermatozoa/ml. Then, two freezing techniques were tested to assess the seminal quality (sperm motility, live spermatozoa and abnormal sperm cell percentages) at 1, 30, 60, 120 and 360 days after freezing: (i) semen was frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen; (ii) semen was frozen and stored in the ultrafreezer at -152 degrees C. After freezing-thawing, both freezing protocols showed no significant differences in sperm motility and the percentages of live and abnormal spermatozoa. On the other hand, the microscopic characteristics of spermatozoa in fresh semen were practically similar among males; however, after the semen processing and freezing, significant differences were observed (p < 0.05) among males, especially as regards sperm motility. This inter-individual variability was detected in both freezing protocols, showing that the male-to-male variation in the seminal quality post-freezing was independent of the freezing technique used. The in vitro results obtained in the Canarian Mastiff breed confirmed that the use of ultra-freezers at -152 degrees C is a potential alternative to liquid nitrogen for storing canine semen for long periods of time.
 
Article
The aim of this study was to determine the optimal maturation culture period of ovum pick up (OPU)-derived cumulus oocytes complexes (COCs) in relation to their developmental capacity. Embryo production, embryo cryotolerance, post-transfer embryonic survival and calf characteristics such as gestation length, birthweight and sex ratio were investigated. This retrospective study covers the analyses of ovum pick up -in vitro production and calving results from a commercial programme that took place between March 1994 and September 2004. Donors were both heifers (of which approximately 90% pregnant) and cows (of which approximately 10% pregnant). Embryo production analyses were based on 7800 OPU sessions conducted from January 1995 until January 1999. Analyses of calving rate were based on 13 468 embryo transfers performed during January 1995 until May 2002. Analyses on calf characteristics were based on 2162 calves born between March 1994 and September 2004. The in vitro maturation culture period ranged from 16 to 28 h. The mean production rate of transferable embryos was 16.5% (1.2 embryos per OPU session). Length of maturation culture period did not affect the production of transferable embryos. Mean calving rate was 40.9% and 38.7% for fresh and frozen/thawed embryos, respectively. Calving rate was not affected by the maturation culture period. Mean birthweight, gestation length and proportion of male calves were 46 kg, 281.9 days and 52.8%, respectively. Maturation culture period did not affect these variables. In conclusion, this study shows that the in vitro maturation culture period within the range of 16-28 h does not affect in vitro embryo production, embryo cryotolerance, post-transfer embryonic survival and calf characteristics, suggesting that all COC batches collected by OPU on the same day, can be fertilized in one IVF session without a significant loss in the production from oocyte to calf.
 
Article
This study was performed to test the effect that two separate, daily, constant-light regimes of both 9 and 16 h could have on the main parameters of boar-semen quality analysis, as well as on the motile sperm subpopulations structure and the ability of its conservation at 16 degrees C. Results show that both luminous regimes have slight, specific effects on the main parameters of boar-semen quality analysis, as well as on the motile sperm subpopulations structure. Furthermore, the conservation ability at 16 degrees C of boar semen was not significantly different between both photoperiods. When a temporal study was performed, results showed that semen quality and motility parameter changes were stabilized at nearly constant values from the second month of the study to the last month in both luminous regimes, indicating a rapid light-related effect on testicular function. Our results indicate that light regimes oscillating from 9 h daily to 16 h daily are of little importance in the control of boar-semen quality in a farming environment.
 
Article
An accurate timing of parturition is very useful for managing canine parturition. It is generally accepted that parturition in bitches occurs between 64 and 66 days after the luteinizing hormone peak. In this retrospective study, we determined pregnancy length in different breeds and its influencing factors dating it from the estimated day of ovulation (EDO), defined as the day when peripheral plasma level of progesterone (P4) reaches 6 ng/ml. From January 2001 to December 2006, 162 pregnancies in 151 bitches of 53 different breeds were followed. Different parameters concerning the bitch, the litter, the type of semen and the type of reproduction were studied. The mean estimated pregnancy length in the bitch from EDO to parturition was 63.1±2.1 days. The main influencing factors for the pregnancies studied were the breed, the size of the bitch and the number of puppies within the litter.
 
The relationship among parameters in cows with ovarian cyst
Article
The aims of this study were to determine the concentrations of the progesterone, oestradiol-17-beta, vitamin A, C and beta-carotene in plasma and cyst fluid and to relate these values with cystic diameter and membrane thickness of Holstein cattle with ovarian luteal cyst. 1650 Holstein cows were examined for the presence of the ovarian cyst and luteal and follicular cystic ovaries were obtained following slaughtering in personal slaughterhouse in Konya-Turkey. 15 Luteal and 15 follicular cystic ovaries were distinguished by rectal palpation and by post mortem ultrasonographic examination. Plasma and cyst fluid, hormone and vitamin analyses were carried out by EIA method and spectrophotometric measurement respectively. Although there was no relationship between beta-carotene and vitamin A in plasma and cyst fluid of both cyst type and hormone concentrations, the vitamin C concentration of cyst fluid was found significantly higher in luteal cyst than in follicular cyst. Moreover, there is a positive correlation among values of the vitamin C concentrations of cyst fluid and cystic membrane thickness, plasma and the cyst fluid progesterone concentrations, but there is a negative correlation among the vitamin C concentrations of cystic fluid and oestradiol 17beta levels of plasma and cyst fluid. In conclusion, vitamin C concentration of cyst fluid supported ultrasonographic and endocrinologic findings. Also, it can be postulated that vitamin C is probably effective on progesterone synthesis in the luteal tissue of cyst.
 
Article
The aim of the present study was to examine the plasma concentrations of progesterone, oestradiol-17beta and cortisol in the cows with cystic follicle and to examine its relationship with the ovulatory response to gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). Eighty-five post-partum Holstein-Friesian cows with cystic follicles regardless of the presence of corpus luteum were studied. Follicular size, presence of corpus luteum and occurrence of ovulation were checked by palpation per rectum. Blood collection and palpation per rectum were conducted on days 0, 7 and 14. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone was administered at day 7. Plasma concentrations of progesterone, oestradiol-17beta and cortisol were determined. Progesterone concentrations of <3.2, 3.2-4.8 and >4.8 nmol/l were defined as low, intermediate and high, respectively. Sixty-three (74.1%) of 85 cows showed low (<3.2 nmol/l =1 ng/ml) progesterone concentrations on day 0. Only 40 (47.1%) of them showed low-low pattern of progesterone at days 0 and 7. In 27 (31.8%) of them, progesterone concentration had increased by day 14. Of 22 cows having high progesterone concentration (>/=4.8 nmol/l) on day 0, corpus luteum was not detected in 18 cows (21.2%). Only in 10 cows, cystic follicle disappeared after GnRH administration. However, only one of 27 cows in which progesterone pattern was low-low-high at days 0, 7 and 14 experienced ovulation of the cystic follicle. Significantly lower oestradiol-17beta concentration was found on day 7 in cows showing a low-low-low pattern than a low-low-high pattern of progesterone (43.0 +/- 4.6 vs 55.8 +/- 2.8 pmol/l, p < 0.05). There was no significant difference in cortisol concentration on any days (days 0, 7 and 14) between cows showing a low-low-low and low-low-high pattern of progesterone. These results suggest that approximately one-fifth of cows diagnosed to have ovarian cysts possess luteal cysts and that a high oestradiol-17beta concentration at the time of GnRH administration is involved in the subsequent ovulation of the follicle, although ovulated follicle may not be cystic.
 
Article
The objective of the present study was to establish the changes in plasma concentrations of LH, FSH, estradiol 17-beta (E2) and progesterone (P4), as well as to understand their temporal relationships during oestrus in mithun (Bos frontalis). The experiment was conducted on 11 mithuns during third or fourth postpartum oestrous cycle. Since oestrus onset the jugular vein blood samples were collected every 2 h for 72 and 96 h, respectively from the animals without and with standing heat. The LH, FSH, E2 and P4 concentrations were estimated in plasma. The P4 concentration was fluctuated throughout the oestrus period and the average P4 concentration was found significantly (p<0.05) lower on the day of oestrus onset. The multiple rises in LH and FSH concentrations above the basal level in spike like fashion were observed throughout the oestrus period irrespective of the occurrence of standing heat. A significant (p<0.01) gradual increase in the average daily E2 concentration was observed till day 2 following oestrus onset irrespective of the occurrence of standing heat. A significant (p<0.05) simultaneous increase in LH, FSH and E2 concentrations and a transient increase in P4 concentration at approximately the time of standing heat onset were observed. During investigation a definite temporal coupling between LH and FSH rises was absent throughout the oestrus period. The results suggest that (1) the multiple short-duration low-amplitude LH and FSH surges during oestrus may be crucial for the final maturation of ovulatory follicle and subsequent ovulation in mithun; (2) a differential mechanism for controlling LH and FSH secretions probably exists in mithun.
 
Article
In this work the role of energy substrates in the maintenance of boar-sperm survival during storage at 15-17 degrees C was tested. For this purpose, boar spermatozoa were stored at 15-17 degrees C in several defined media with separate combinations of a monosaccharide, glucose and a non-monosaccharide, either citrate or lactate, energy substrates. Our results indicate that the medium containing the highest concentration of glucose together with low lactate levels was the most suitable to maintain sperm quality for 168 h at 15-17 degrees C. This was confirmed after observation of the results of the percentages of viability and altered acrosomes, the osmotic resistance test, the hyperosmotic resistance test and the rhythm of L-lactate production. The survival ability of boar sperm was greater in this experimental medium than in the standard Beltsville Thawing Solution extender, which contains only glucose as an energy substrate, although at a concentration far higher than that of all the tested experimental media. Our results indicate that the exact composition, more than the pure quantity of energy substrates, is a very important modulatory factor which affects survival ability of boar sperm in refrigeration. Thus, the exact combination of several energy substrates would have to be taken into account when optimizing the design of commercial extenders to store boar spermatozoa at 15-17 degrees C.
 
Article
The improvement of biotechnical methods connected with fast and precise semen quality assessment and its utilization in assisted reproductive techniques is an urgent necessity in felids. The aim of this study was to evaluate some quality parameters (i.e. the viability and share of cells with intact plasma membrane) of epididymal sperm of cats using the flow cytometry method and computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) examination. The material consisted of epididymal spermatozoa flushed from 22 pairs of epididymes after routine neutering procedures obtained from domestic cats aged between 8 and 36 months. The epididymes were cut and incubated with an extender without egg yolk. The samples were assessed for sperm viability (Live/Dead Sperm Viability Kit), percentage of subtle membrane changes (Apoptosis Detection Kit) and motility using FACScalibur flow cytometer and assisted sperm analyser HTM IVOS version 12.2. The flow cytometry method revealed 71.3% and 84.4% of live sperm using Live/Dead Sperm Viability Kit and Apoptosis Detection Kit respectively. The population of early-apoptotic and late-apoptotic sperm were 0.8% and 1.1% respectively. The CASA examination found 51.5% of motile sperm. However, the motility examination under light microscope revealed 69.5% of motile sperm. The data revealed an indistinctive per cent of apoptotic cells and 18.9% and 15.6% of dead cells using Live/Dead Sperm Viability Kit and Apoptosis Detection Kit, respectively, which indicate that the sperm obtained after flushing the epididymis possess potential properties for further assisted reproduction techniques.
 
Article
Apoptosis (programmed cell death) could be considered as a physiological process that takes part in a healthy organism, which helps to maintain organism homeostasis. The visible deterioration of semen quality and the number of germ cells is accompanied by a seasonal decrease of the reproductive activity in some species. This post-effect cascade is caused by apoptosis, which is the primary mechanism responsible for the elimination of germ cells during spermatogenesis. The aim of our study was to assess apoptotic changes in the epithelium germinativum in cat testes at different ages. One hundred and two pairs of testes were obtained from domestic cats aged between 4 months and 10 years. The paraffin-embedded tissue sections were labelled using the Oncogene and Calbiochem Research Products DNA Fragmentation Detection Kit (Cat# QIA21; Darmstadt, Germany), which allows the recognition of apoptotic nuclei in tissue sections with Fragment End Labelling (FragEL) of DNA. The activity of apoptotic processes in cat testes collected from the spring-summer period compared with the autumn-winter season revealed that, 59.42% and 51.51%, respectively, males testes were characterized by insignificant changes. The obtained data revealed a distinctive apoptotic changes in the young animal testes before spermatogenesis onset. An intensification of programmed death cells in the epithelium germinativum in the elder cats (between 3-6 and 6-10 years) was not observed. Apoptotic changes slightly intensified in cats aged between 12 and 36 months.
 
Article
Based on recent literature dealing with the role of oestrogens in the male gonad, attempts were undertaken to reveal the site of aromatization within the testis of the European bison (Bison bonasus). Testes were collected from culled animals living in free-ranging populations in Bialowieza Forest, Poland (nine males aged 8 months to 10 years). Moreover, to check for any alterations in the expression of testicular aromatase between American bison (Bison bison) and European bison, testes from one adult 10-year-old individual were also chosen for this study. For immunohistochemistry, 4% formaldehyde fixative was used. Both qualitative and quantitative evaluations of immunohistochemical staining were performed. Leydig cells, Sertoli cells and germ cells exhibited a positive immunoreaction for aromatase in testes of immature and sexually mature bison. A marked increase in aromatase expression was observed in three adult European individuals with impaired spermatogenesis. Consistent with recent data and those of our own, it might be suggested that the strong expression of aromatase negatively affects spermatogenic function in bison testes and may serve as a possible explanation of specific sperm defects observed in European bison bulls. On the contrary, one cannot exclude that differences in the aromatase immunoexpression levels are attributed to the homozygosity, the cause of frequent disease in European bison.
 
Article
Antioxidants in the male reproductive tract are the main defence factors against oxidative stress caused by reactive oxygen species production, which compromises sperm function and male fertility. This study was designed to determine the activity of antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx), in the testicular and epididymidal tissues of adult male European bison (Bison bonasus). The reproductive tract tissues were subjected to real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis to quantify mRNA expression levels of five antioxidant enzymes: copper/zinc SOD (Cu/Zn SOD), secretory extracellular SOD (Ec-SOD), CAT, phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase (PHGPx) and GPx5. The corpus and cauda epididymidal tissues displayed greater (p < 0.05) SOD activity compared with the testicular tissue. It was found that CAT activity was lowest (p < 0.05) in the cauda epididymidis, whereas negligible GPx activity was detected in the reproductive tract tissues. There were no detectable differences in the mRNA expression level of Cu/Zn SOD among the different reproductive tract tissues. Small amounts of Ec-SOD mRNA were found in the reproductive tract, particularly in the epididymides. The caput and cauda epididymides exhibited greater (p < 0.05) level of CAT mRNA expression, whereas PHGPx mRNA was more (p < 0.05) expressed in the testis. Furthermore, extremely large amounts of GPx5 mRNA were detected in the caput epididymidal tissue compared with other tissues of the reproductive tract. It can be suggested that the activity of the antioxidant enzymes and the relative gene expression of the enzymes confirm the presence of tissue-specific antioxidant defence systems in the bison reproductive tract, which are required for spermatogenesis, epididymal maturation and storage of spermatozoa.
 
Article
The aim of this study was to determine possible links between steroidogenic activity of single ovarian cysts and response to intramuscular treatment with 20 microg of buserelin (GnRH-analogue) after cyst emptying, in pluriparous Friesian cows bearing a singleton cyst treated not earlier than 55 days post-partum. Progesterone, 17beta-estradiol and testosterone were determined in cystic fluids collected by needle aspiration of the cyst. Of the cows, 75.6% began ovarian cyclicity within 30 days after treatment with a conception rate of 64.7%. In this study it was found that as progesterone concentration in cystic fluids rose, the number of positive responses to the treatment fell.
 
Article
To study the postpartum ovarian activities for investigation of first postpartum oestrus, twenty-five Thai crossbred native mares were monitored after parturition by oestrous detection, transrectal palpation and reproductive ultrasonography. Blood samplings were also taken for estradiol-17beta (E2) analysis. The first ovulation occurred within 20 days postpartum in 92% (23/25) of the mares. The mean intervals of foaling to first oestrus and to first ovulation were 10.3 +/- 2.9 and 13.4 +/- 2.6 days (mean +/- SD) respectively. Serum E2 increased from 7.0 +/- 2.9 to a peak of 10.8 +/- 3.3 pg/ml (mean +/- SD) at 2 days before ovulation. In conclusion, from the study, it can be stated that the postpartum breeding management should be considered after day 10 postpartum by careful examination of ovarian activity with various methods. However, the uterine condition should be also estimated associated with the ovarian activity after parturition which may increase breeding performance and foal production.
 
Article
The mare exhibits nocturnal uterine contractions in the last 6 days of gestation. It is hypothesized that estradiol 17beta (O17beta) may be associated with the nightly increase in uterine contractions. The 24-h secretion pattern of plasma O17beta was measured in 3 pony mares in late gestation to identify changes in release as the mare neared parturition. Blood was collected weekly at 08:00 hours beginning on day 240 and every third day from day 330 until delivery. Serial blood samples were collected from each mare every 30-min for 24-h beginning on gestation day 310 and every sixth day thereafter until parturition. Concentrations of O17beta were elevated at night with lowest concentrations occurring directly before sunset (p < 0.01). The natural log of the variance was increased at sunset (p < 0.01) and was decreased during the 6-h period immediately after sunrise. This pattern was especially evident in the 6 days that preceded parturition. The contrast between nocturnal and daytime concentrations of O17beta in the last 6 days of gestation may contribute to night-time delivery in the mare.
 
Article
The scientific identification of the key components of sexual reproduction - eggs and sperm - took place during an amazing decade of discovery in the 1660s and 1670s. The names of many of the people involved are now forgotten, and yet their work, and the difficulties they faced and the conflicts they endured, resonate strongly to the present day. Despite this period of innovation, the respective roles of egg and sperm remained unclear for another 170 years. Why did this take so long? And what did people think before these discoveries? By tracing the contours of this major milestone in human knowledge, we can also gain insight into our current knowledge, and the boundaries we may be unwittingly trapped by.
 
Article
An experiment was designed to evaluate the effects of estradiol-17beta (E17beta) on follicular wave dynamics and ovulatory response in Holstein heifers receiving either a progestogen ear-implant (Crestar; Intervet International b.v. Boxmeer, The Netherlands) or an intravaginal progesterone-releasing device [controlled internal drug release-bovine device (Eazibreed, CIDR-B; Bodinco BV, Alkmaar, The Netherlands)]. For comparison, another group of heifers was also synchronized using Crestar plus an injection of estradiol valerate (EV) and norgestomet as recommended by the pharmaceutical company. Twenty 20-22-month-old cycling Holstein heifers were allocated to one of the following treatment groups at random stages of the oestrous cycle: (I) simultaneous insertion of Crestar and intramuscular injection of 3 mg norgestomet and 5 mg EV (Crestar 9 + EV 9); (II) simultaneous insertion of Crestar and intramuscular injection of 5 mg E17beta (Crestar 9 + E17beta 9); (III) insertion of Crestar followed 2 days later by intramuscular injection of 5 mg E17beta (Crestar 9 + E17beta 7); or (IV) insertion of CIDR-B device followed 2 days later by intramuscular injection of 5 mg E17beta (CIDR 9 + E17beta 7). The CIDR-B or Crestar implants were removed after 9 days and all heifers received 500 microg Cloprostenol (Estrumate, Pitman-Moore Nederland BV, Houten. The Netherlands). Ovarian ultrasonographic examinations were performed once daily during the synchronization period using a B-mode scanner equipped with a 7.5 MHz linear-array transrectal transducer. In addition, heifers were scanned every 12 h after implant/device withdrawal until 3 days after ovulation in order to monitor follicular activity, detect ovulation and subsequent early luteal formation. Detection of oestrus was performed every 6 h for 4 days after device/implant removal. Oestrus was observed 24-32 h before ovulation in all heifers. The mean hours interval from treatment withdrawal to ovulation was not significantly different (84.0 +/- 16.5, 77.6 +/- 4.1, 73.6 +/- 4.1 and 64.0 +/- 4.4 h for treatments I, II, III and IV, respectively, p > 0.1). However, the variance for heifers treated with EV + norgestomet was significantly larger (Levene's Test; p < 0.01) than those treated with E17beta. All E17beta treatments resulted in dominant follicle suppression and a new wave emerged 4.1 days after treatment compared with 6.6 days for the EV + norgestomet treatment (p < 0.05). The time from emergence of the new ovulatory wave to ovulation was longer for the new wave that emerged after E17beta treatment (9.2 +/- 0.3 days) than after EV + norgestomet treatment (6.9 +/- 0.4 days; p < 0.05). The results of this study suggest that the four treatments used were effective in inducing synchronous behavioural oestrus and ovulation. However, a higher degree of oestrus and ovulation synchrony was observed in heifers treated with E17beta than in heifers treated with EV + norgestomet. Synchronization treatments with exogenous E17beta or EV + norgestomet at the time of progestin device insertion (Crestar or CIDR-B) or 2 days later in heifers can regulate a different emergence pattern of ovarian follicular development in randomly cyclic heifers. The E17beta was effective in inducing follicular suppression and resulted in the consistent emergence of a new follicular wave.
 
Mean (±SEM) daily numbers of small (a; 3 mm), medium (b; 4 mm) and large (c; ≥5 mm) antral follicles, and maximum follicular diameter (d) determined by transrectal ovarian ultrasonography in anoestrous Rideau Arcott ewes, treated for 14 days with medroxyprogesterone acetate-releasing intravaginal sponges with or without a single i.m. injection of oestradiol-17β (E2-17β) given 6 days after sponge insertion (day 0; E2-17β-treated vs control ewes respectively). Follicular data were aligned to the day of injection and analysed for the period from days 0 to 5. Asterisks indicate significant differences between groups (p < 0.05)
Article
In ruminants, superovulatory treatments started at the time of follicular wave emergence result in greater and less variable ovulatory responses and embryo yields compared with the treatments begun in the presence of a large growing antral follicle(s) from the previous waves. The progesterone-oestradiol treatment is routinely used for follicular wave synchronization in cattle. The main objective of this study was to characterize the ovarian responses, hormonal profiles and in vivo embryo production in anoestrous Rideau Arcott ewes (May-June), which were superovulated after pretreatment with medroxyprogesterone acetate (MAP)-releasing intravaginal sponges and a single dose of oestradiol-17beta (E(2)-17beta). Six days after insertion of MAP sponges, eight ewes were given an i.m. injection of 350 microg of E(2)-17beta (E(2)-17beta-treated ewes); 10 ewes were given an i.m. injection of vehicle (control ewes). Multiple-dose Folltropin-V treatment, followed by the bolus injection of GnRH (50 microg i.m.), began 6 days after E(2)-17beta/vehicle injection. Transrectal ovarian ultrasonography revealed that: (i) the interval between E(2)-17beta/vehicle injection and regression of all follicles > or =5 to 3 mm in diameter was shorter (p < 0.01; 2.6 +/- 0.4 vs 4.8 +/- 0.6 days respectively); and (ii) the interval between injection and emergence of the next follicular wave was longer (p < 0.05; 5.4 +/- 0.3 vs 1.2 +/- 0.4 days, respectively) in E(2)-17beta-treated than in control ewes. During the 6 days after injection, the mean FSH peak concentration and basal FSH concentration were lower (p < 0.01) in E(2)-17beta-treated ewes. The mean ovulation rate and the number of recovered embryos did not differ (p > 0.05) between the two groups of ewes. However, the number of luteinized unovulated follicles per ewe, and the variability in the number of luteal structures and overall embryo yield were less (p < 0.05) in E(2)-17beta-treated compared with control ewes. In conclusion, the MAP-E(2)-17beta pretreatment significantly reduced the variability in ovarian responses and embryo yields, without affecting the embryo production in superovulated anoestrous ewes.
 
Article
To determine the pattern of follicular growth during oestrus and the relationship with estradiol and luteinizing hormone in ovulating and non-ovulating cows, three groups of (n = 10), thirty cyclic, Bos indicus cows were synchronized with CIDR, consecutively at 9-day intervals. Twenty-four hours after implant withdrawal, all cows synchronized in the same group with other cows displaying estrous behaviour after implant withdrawal were subjected to an intensive period of ultrasonographic observations (every 6 h for 120 h). Blood samples were taken to evaluate LH surge and 17-beta estradiol. No differences were observed in follicular growth, ovulatory diameter and growth average in the three groups of synchronized cows. Cows ovulating (CO) had a better growth average in comparison with the group of cows not ovulating (CNO) (1.4 +/- 0.7 mm vs 0.7 +/- 0.5 mm, p < 0.06). The average time from estradiol release to LH surge was 39.3 +/- 24.6 h. Differences were also observed between CO and CNO with respect to both the first concentration (27.7 +/- 5.2 vs 58.6 +/- 31.9, p < 0.004) and last concentration (79.3 +/- 23.3 vs 99.2 +/- 27.3, p < 0.05) of estradiol above 5 pg/ml. The average time from overt signs of oestrus to LH release was 8.4 +/- 7.7 h. In the CNO, the increase in LH concentration was never above two SD from the basal average. In conclusion, there is a wide variability in follicular growth and ovulatory diameter between CO and CNO, which can affect the intervals of LH release, estradiol peak and ovulation. Yet, LH surge might be a good marker for timing ovulation in Zebu cows.
 
Article
This study describes the age-related variation in boar taint compounds, skatole and androstenone, and testosterone, oestradiol-17 beta (E17 beta), oestrone sulphate (ES), dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), triiodothyronine (T(3)) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in six boars. Three pairs of littermates of crossbred entire male pigs (from three Yorkshire x Duroc dams and one Hampshire sire) were included. Blood samples were taken at the age of 9-15 weeks and thereafter at weekly intervals from the age of 20-32 weeks. Plasma concentrations of skatole, androstenone, testosterone, E17 beta, ES, DHEAS, T(3) and IGF-1 were measured. We found that skatole levels in boars increased at the age around puberty after an increase in the levels of testicular steroids. Levels of skatole were not associated with the levels of sex steroids, T(3) and IGF-1. However, the increased level of testicular steroids is probably the underlying factor needed for high skatole levels to occur although the specific mechanism leading to increased skatole levels remains unknown.
 
Article
The aim of the present study was to determine the suitability of using two egg yolk-free commercial extenders, Andromed and Biociphos Plus as compared with the Tris-egg yolk based diluent Biladyl, for the cryopreservation of bull spermatozoa when the freezing protocol involved holding the extended semen at 4 degrees C for 18 h before the freezing. Six ejaculates from each of 10 Holstein bulls were collected by using artificial vagina. The ejaculates were evaluated for volume, sperm concentration and motility, divided in to three equal volumes, and diluted, respectively, with the three extenders as specified above. Extended semen was equilibrated for 18 h at 4 degrees C and frozen in 0.25-ml straws. After thawing, 100-mul aliquots of semen were labelled with SYBR-14, PI and PE-PNA (Phycoerythrin-conjugated Peanut agglutinin) and analysed by flow cytometry at 0, 3, 6 and 9 h after incubation at 37 degrees C. A General Lineal Model procedure for repeated measures was used to determine the effects of extender, bull, replicate and the interaction between them, on sperm viability and acrosomal integrity. Semen samples frozen with Biladyl showed higher (p < 0.001) sperm survival after 0 h (47.9%) and 9 h (30.3%) of incubation than those frozen with Andromed (38.5% and 17.3%, after 0 and 9 h respectively) or Biociphos Plus (34.9% and 21.6%, after 0 and 9 h respectively). The bull and replicate had significant effects (p < 0.001) on both sperm viability and acrosomal integrity, but the interactions between bull and extender and between replicate and extender were not significant. It was concluded that, when holding the semen overnight before freezing, the use of Biladyl results in higher sperm survival and longevity than the use of Andromed or Biociphos Plus.
 
Article
Although, brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis Mitchill 1814) and Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus Linnaeus 1758) are able to cross and give fertile offspring, their androgenetic nucleocytoplasmic hybrids are not viable. To overcome incompatibility between the egg cytoplasm of one charr species and the sperm nucleus of another charr species, application of F1 interspecific hybrids as egg donors for the purpose of androgenesis has been proposed. Here, androgenetic development of the brook charr was successfully induced in the brook charr eggs and the eggs derived from the reciprocal brook charr × Arctic charr F1 hybrids. A working androgenesis protocol included inactivation of the maternal nuclear DNA achieved by irradiation of the eggs with 420 Gy of X-rays, insemination of such treated eggs with the haploid sperm cells and exposition of the haploid androgenetic zygotes to the high hydrostatic pressure shock (51.711 MPa for 4 min) applied 420 min after insemination. Androgenetic larvae that hatched from the brook charr and the hybrid eggs were shown to be homozygous brook charr individuals. Androgenetic individuals exhibited 84 chromosomes and 100 chromosome arms (FN), values characteristic for the brook charr diploid cells. Strategy hybridize first than induce androgenesis should be tested in order to provide androgenetic offspring in other salmonids that are able to cross and produce fertile offspring.
 
Article
The aim of the study was to evaluate the seasonality of andrological characteristics and hormonal profile of captive maned wolves (Chrysocyon brachyurus, Illiger 1811). Three adult males were evaluated from the Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração Scientific Breeding Center in Araxá, MG, Brazil, over 13 months. Semen was collected 2-3 times weekly and analysed. Scrotal circumference, biometrics and testicular volume were measured. Stool samples were collected 2-3 times weekly to analyse corticosteroid and testosterone metabolite concentrations. A success rate of 100% was achieved in the collection attempts during the breeding season (BS) and 77.8% during the non-breeding season (NBS). The interval to achieve penile erection was 1-5 min in the BS and 6-10 in the NBS (p < 0.001). Of the ejaculates collected, 80.0% contained sperm during BS, while 28.6% did during the NBS. The ejaculate had only one fraction, was odourless, predominantly translucent (72.4%), with a watery appearance, pH 6.7 and osmolarity of 352.8 mOsmol. Seasonal influences were seen in ejaculate volume (1.3 ml vs 0.4 ml), number of spermatozoa per ejaculate (73.9 × 10(6) vs 6.1 × 10(6) ) and percentage of live sperm (82.0% vs 66.1%) between the BS and NBS (p < 0.05), respectively. A high percentage of major sperm defects were observed in both seasons (50.1% in BS; 65.7% in NBS). Testicular volume was larger (p < 0.05; right testicles 13.1 cm(3) in BS vs 4.0 cm(3) in NBS, while left testicles 12.9 cm(3) in BS vs 5.3 cm(3) in NBS) and testicular consistency increased in the BS. No difference was seen in the basal faecal metabolite concentrations of testosterone; however, the corticosteroid concentrations were higher in the BS. Based on these results, it is possible to conclude that the collection of semen is feasible in captive maned wolves without compromising libido, seminal characteristics and reproductive behaviour and that sperm production is influenced by seasonality; however, it appears that there is no seasonal influence on basal testosterone concentrations.
 
Article
The present work describes the development of a quantitative competitive PCR strategy for quantifying the relative abundance of 18s rRNA transcripts in buffalo oocytes during in vitro maturation (IVM). As a method, the competitive PCR overcomes some of the shortcomings of conventional reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) procedure making it a more authentic quantitative method. A composite primer based approach was used to generate the competitor cDNA to be used as external control. Validity of the method for its efficiency was demonstrated by quantitative analysis of the competition parameters. Using this method the relative abundance of buffalo oocyte 18s rRNA transcript over the period of IVM was found to vary within a narrow range of 0.93-1.06 folds which establishes the accuracy of the method and reflects the stability of its expression during IVM. This qualifies the use of this house keeping gene as a valid internal control in studies investigating the gene expression pattern in buffalo oocytes. The competitive PCR approach described in this study could be used for quantification of other transcripts from a limited number of oocytes where a conventional RT-PCR method is either difficult to use or multiplexing it with highly abundant house keeping genes is apparently problematic.
 
Article
This study assessed the effect of different semen storage temperatures and the influence of semen pooling in semen viability. In experiment 1, semen samples (n = 30) of five Majorera bucks were individually processed [Individual semen (IS)] and after the first dilution (Tris-yolk extender), semen-diluted aliquots from each male were pooled semen (PS). Thereafter, semen samples (IS and PS) were preserved as fresh semen (37 and 20°C), chilled semen (4°C) and frozen semen. Sperm motility and the percentage of abnormal sperm cells and intact membrane acrosomes were defined. Semen preservation at 20 and 4°C did not modify the quality of spermatozoa for the first 24 h, but the conservation at 37°C caused a dramatic fall in the semen motility from 12 h onwards. Furthermore, the longevity of frozen-thawed semen was limited to 4-6 h. No differences were observed in semen parameters when PS was compared with semen from individual males in any of the preservation protocols assessed. In experiment 2, 120 goats were distributed in four experimental groups: in group fresh individual semen (FIS, n = 30) and group frozen-thawed individual semen (FTIS, n = 30), does were transcervically inseminated with fresh semen and frozen-thawed semen from each individual male, respectively, and in group fresh pooled semen (FPS, n = 30) and group frozen-thawed pooled semen (FTPS, n = 30), goats were transcervically inseminated with FPS and FTPS, respectively. The kidding rate was very close in the FIS and FPS groups (70.0% and 73.7%, respectively), and no significant differences were observed in the fertility rate between FTIS and FTPS. The results of this study confirmed that semen samples may be preserved satisfactorily for 24 h both at 20 and 4°C. In addition, the mixture of semen of different bucks did not significantly modify the semen parameters when compared with semen from individual males.
 
Article
Recent studies have implicated the peripheral actions of ghrelin in reproductive tissues. Here, we provide evidence that both ghrelin and its receptor GHSR-1a (the type 1a growth hormone secretagogue receptor) are expressed at both mRNA and protein levels in sheep oocytes and pre-implantation embryos produced in vitro. Real-time RT-PCR experiments confirmed that ghrelin mRNA levels varied depending on developmental stage, with the highest expression in metaphase II (MII) oocytes, higher expression at the 2-cell stage, and minimal expression in germinal vesicle (GV) oocytes, 4- and 8-cell stages, and in the blastocyst. The levels of GHSR-1a mRNA decreased from GV to MII, increased immediately at the 2-cell stage and then remained stable until the blastocyst stage. Ghrelin protein was detected mainly in the cytoplasm close to the plasma membrane in both inner cell mass and trophectoderm cells, while GHSR-1a protein was most abundant in the plasma membrane. In conclusion, the presence of the ghrelin signalling system within the sheep oocytes and pre-implantation embryos opens up the possibility of a potential regulatory role of this novel molecule in reproductive function.
 
Article
Cells are blessed with a group of stress protector molecules known as heat shock proteins (HSPs), amongst them HSP70, encoded by HSPA-1A gene, is most abundant and highly conserved protein. Variety of stresses hampers the developmental competence of embryos under in vivo and in vitro conditions. Present work was designed to study the quantitative expression of HSPA-1A mRNA in immature oocytes (IMO), matured oocytes (MO), in vitro produced (IVP) and in vivo-derived (IVD) buffalo embryos to assess the level of stress to which embryos are exposed under in vivo and in vitro culture conditions. Further, HSPA-1A gene sequence was analysed to determine its homology with other mammalian sequences. The mRNA expression analysis was carried out on 72 oocytes (40 IMO; 32 MO), 76 IVP and 55 IVD buffalo embryos. Expression of HSPA-1A was found in oocytes and throughout the developmental stages of embryos examined irrespective of the embryo source; however, higher (p < 0.05) expression was observed in 8-16 cell, morula and blastocyst stages of IVP embryos as compared to IVD embryos. Phylogenetic analysis of bubaline HSPA-1A revealed that it shares 91-98% identity with other mammalian sequences. It can be concluded that higher level of HSPA-1A mRNA in IVP embryos in comparison with in vivo-derived embryos is an indicator of cellular stress in IVP system. This study suggests need for further optimization of in vitro culture system in which HSPA-1A gene could be used as a stress biomarker during pre-implantation development.
 
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This study was designed to determine the effect of intravenous lipopolysaccharide (LPS) administration on the secretion of interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-1 receptors (IL-1Rs) gene expression in the hypothalamus of anoestrous ewes. Gene expression of IL-1β and its receptors was assayed by the real-time polymerase chain reaction. The expression of IL-1β in the hypothalamus was detected using Western blot. Our results showed that IL-1β mRNA is transcribed in the ovine hypothalamus. Lipopolysaccharide increased (p ≤ 0.01) the IL-1β gene expression in the pre-optic area 2.4-fold, the anterior hypothalamus (AHA) 3.4-fold, the medial basal hypothalamus 3.7-fold and the medial eminence 3.9-fold. The pro-form and mature form of IL-1β protein were found in the hypothalamus after endotoxin injection. In general, the endotoxin also increased more than two times (p ≤ 0.01) the expression of IL-1 receptor type I (IL-1R1) and type II (IL-1R2) genes in the hypothalamus, except the AHA, where the number of IL-1R2 mRNA was extremely low and not sufficient to the quantitative analysis. These results demonstrate that the peripheral immune/inflammatory challenge increases the IL-1β expression in the hypothalamus. This endogenous IL-1β seems to be involved in the modulation of processes which are regulated at the hypothalamic level. One of these processes could be a reproduction.
 
Top-cited authors
Heriberto Rodriguez-Martinez
  • Linköping University
Ann Van Soom
  • Ghent University
Geert Opsomer
  • Ghent University
Felipe Martínez-Pastor
  • Universidad de León
Fernando J Peña
  • Universidad de Extremadura