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The dietary fatty acids and their effects on reproductive performance of ruminants

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Abstract

In this review article, the effect of dietary fat and fatty acids on reproductive performance of ruminants has been discussed. Fat supplementation affects several organs involved in reproduction such as hypothalamus, anterior pituitary, ovary and uterus. Dietary inclusion of fat could improve reproductive performance either through energy supply or the impact on reproduction procedures. The efficacies of dietary fat on reproduction depend on fatty acid types especially polyunsaturated fatty acids. Dietary supplementation of fats and fatty acids has caused an improvement in cell membrane fluidity, an increase in follicle numbers and diameter, an improvement in oocyte and embryo quality as well as an increase in hormone secretion including estrogen, progesterone and growth factor. Furthermore, inclusion of fat could increase gene expression involved in reproduction. In general, the results indicated that dietary fat could lead to improved in reproductive performance of ruminants.
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European Journal of Experimental Biology, 2013, 3(6):95-97
ISSN: 2248 –9215
CODEN (USA): EJEBAU
95
Pelagia Research Library
The dietary fatty acids and their effects on reproductive
performance of ruminants
Elaheh Jahanian
*1
, Hojjat Asadollahpour Nanaei
1
and Nasroallah Moradi Kor
2
1
Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran
2
Department of Reproduction Physiology, Iranian Society of Physiology and Pharmacology, Tehran, Iran
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
ABSTRACT
In this review article, the effect of dietary fat and fatty acids on reproductive performance of ruminants has been
discussed. Fat supplementation affects several organs involved in reproduction such as hypothalamus, anterior
pituitary, ovary and uterus. Dietary inclusion of fat could improve reproductive performance either through energy
supply or the impact on reproduction procedures. The efficacies of dietary fat on reproduction depend on fatty acid
types especially polyunsaturated fatty acids. Dietary supplementation of fats and fatty acids has caused an
improvement in cell membrane fluidity, an increase in follicle numbers and diameter, an improvement in oocyte and
embryo quality as well as an increase in hormone secretion including estrogen, progesterone and growth factor.
Furthermore, inclusion of fat could increase gene expression involved in reproduction. In general, the results
indicated that dietary fat could lead to improved in reproductive performance of ruminants.
Key words: Fatty acids, Reproductive, Ruminants
_____________________________________________________________________________________________ INTRODUCTION
An improvement in reproductive performance has been one of the important economical parameters. As, delay in
pregnancy resulted in noticeable economical loss in lactating dairy cow industry. It seems one of the strategies to
enhance reproduction efficiency is inclusion of nutrients such as fats especially essential fatty acids [18]. Essential
fatty acids content of ruminants is less available than in those of non ruminants due to microbial biohydrogenation
of fatty acids in rumen [10]. Thereby, dietary fat supplementation might improve reproduction [21]. Ferguson et al.
(1990) found a 2.2 increase in pregnancy rate in the first of artificial insemination of dairy cows fed on fat [5]. In
addition, dietary inclusion of n-3 fatty acids was shown to improve embryo survival and pregnancy of dairy cows
[13]. In addition to the effect of fatty acids on cell membrane fluidity and biophysical properties, they resulted in
improved follicle [29], oocyte [30] and embryo [23] development and increased gene expression involved in
reproduction occurrences [12]. Additionally, fatty acids and cholesterol are substrates to synthesis reproduction
hormones including estrogen, progesterone and prostaglandin altering ovary and uterus performance that affects
pregnancy rate (7 and 28).
Reproductive hormones
Dietary supplementation of fat can affect ovary steroidogenesis increasing follicular concentration of steroidal [14].
Robinson et al. (2002) found higher steroidal concentration in plasma of cows fed linolenic acid than control group
[17]. Also, Moallem et al. (1999) observed that supplementation of high unsaturated fatty acids increased follicular
steroidal concentration when compared to cows fed low unsaturated fatty acids [14]. Fats can improve reproductive
performance through affecting progesterone metabolism, because it produced by corpus luteum is essential to keep
Elaheh Jahanian et al Euro. J. Exp. Bio., 2013, 3(6):95-97
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pregnancy. In addition, progesterone concentration was increased in cows supplemented with fat such as cotton seed
or fatty acids [22]. This increase might result from either a reduction in progesterone clearance of plasma [8] or an
increase in production of bigger corpus luteum [25]. However, Bilby et al. (2006) showed that progesterone
concentration was not influenced by feeding diets containing MUFA and PUFA [3]. Furthermore, long fatty acids in
particular arachidonic acid (AA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are precursors for eicosanoids such as
prostaglandins [4]. However, linolenic acid inhibited prostaglandin synthesis by inhibiting cyclooxygenase enzyme
[7]. Thereby, it prevents corpus luteum regression on ovary essential for pregnancy [21].
Follicle growth and development
One of the mechanisms of dietary fat on an improvement of reproduction procedure is its impact on follicle growth.
The number and size of ovulatory follicles determine future success of ovulatory rate and oocyst survival [1]. A 23%
increase of dominant follicle in cows supplemented with dietary inclusion of fat was reported by Staples and
Thatcher (2005) [21]. Furthermore, n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids have remarkable influences on the
numbers of follicle in ovary of ewes [30]. Dietary addition of polyunsaturated fatty acids increased the number of
follicles with medium size [24]. Similarly, Robinson et al. (2002) indicated that an increase in the number of
medium sized follicles (5-10 mm) was obtained in cows supplemented with n-3 and n-6 fatty acids as compared to
those added control cows [17]. In addition, they noted that cows fed high n-6 diets had higher dominant follicles
diameter than those received control and high n-3 diets. Fat supplementation can affect follicular growth dynamic in
cows through 1.5 to 5 mm follicle numbers [26]. However, inclusion of high n-3 diets had no effect on the follicle
number [3 and 16] and diameter [3 and15] in cows when compared to those supplemented with rich n-6 diets.
Luteal performance
Supplementation of high fat diets increased corpus luteum long life through progesterone production [27] improving
reproduction. Staples and Thatcher (2005) suggested that an increase in progesterone concentration might be as a
result of higher corpus luteum size resulting from higher dominant follicles in cows fed fat supplementation [19].
Garcia-Bojalil et al. (1998) indicated that high linoleic acid diets had higher corpus luteum than those received
control diet [9].
Oocyte quality and maturity
Embryo quality and competence depends on fatty acids composition [18]. Zeron et al. (2002) stated that
supplementation polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish oil resulted in an increase in high quality oocyte number, a
better oocyte membrane stability and an increase in long polyunsaturated fatty acids content of plasma and cumulus
cells when compared to ewes fed control diet affecting oocyte quality and maturity [30]. However, some studies
have found that feeding high n-6 diets can inhibit oocyte development through avoiding of meiosis resumption at the
germinal vesicle stage [11].
Embryo quality and survival
Fouladi-Nashta et al. (2007) exhibited that dairy cows supplemented with 200 and 800 g/d calcium salt of fatty acids
palm oil had higher conversion of oocytes to blastocyst as compared to control cows, but fertility rate and the
number of embryo was not altered [6]. Moreover, Thangavelu et al. (2007) showed that embryo development was
elevated in cows fed on polyunsaturated fatty acids than saturated fatty acids [23].
Growth factor
Insulin like growth factor is one of the known growth stimuli for follicular development [20]. HDL concentration
might be responsible for IGF-I production in granulose cells due to its effect on mitogenic stimulation [2]. Robinson
et al. (2002) found an increase of IGF-I concentration in follicle of cows supplemented with soybean oil than control
[17].
CONCLUSION
Dietary supplementation especially polyunsaturated fatty acids could affect reproductive performance either through
influence on peripheral hormone circulation involved in reproduction or effect on follicle and oocyst number or
quality involved in embryo survival.
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Elaheh Jahanian et al Euro. J. Exp. Bio., 2013, 3(6):95-97
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... fact that polyenoic (linoleic and linolenoic) and other unsaturated fatty acids make anticancerogenic, antisclerotic and anti-inflammatory effect in animals' bodies [25]. Besides, the mentioned fatty acids stimulate reproductive functions of cows and heifers, support expression of reproductive genes, are substrates for synthesis of estrogens, progesterone and prostaglandins, activate metabolic processes in follicular, oocytes, supply growth and development of embryos [17]. Considering everything mentioned above, different methods are used to protect vegetative and animal fats before giving them to animals in order to reduce negative effect of alimental fats on metabolic activity of symbiotic microorganisms of cattle forestomaches, raise income of polyenoic fatty acids from bowel into blood stream and increase share of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the content of milk fat and beef [18]. ...
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A 3-yr study was conducted with spring-born heifers (n = 240) to determine the effects of developing heifers to either 55 or 60% of mature BW at breeding on reproduction and calf production responses. A concurrent study was also conducted with summer-born heifers (n = 146) to examine effects of breeding heifers with the mature cow herd or 1 mo earlier on reproduction and calf production variables. Spring-born crossbred heifer calves were weaned and developed on two different levels of nutrition to achieve the desired prebreeding BW. Summer-born heifers were developed to similar target breeding BW (60% of mature BW) to begin calving either 1 mo before (May) or at the same time as the mature cowherd (June). Blood samples were taken before breeding to determine differences in estrous cyclicity. Pregnancy rates through the fourth pregnancy were determined. Cow and calf production variables were evaluated through the third gestation. Spring-born heifers reached 53 or 58% of mature BW at breeding and had similar reproduction and first calf production traits between the two, groups. Calving difficulty with the second calf was greater (P < 0.05) for heifers developed to 58% of mature BW at breeding. Subsequent second calf weaning weight and ADG were decreased (P < 0.05) for heifers developed to 58% of mature BW at breeding. Feed costs were $22/heifer less for heifers developed to 53% of mature BW. Summer-born first-calf heifers calving in June had less (P < 0.01) calving difficulty than did heifers calving in May; however, calf birth weights were similar. Breeding summer-born heifers 1 mo before the cowherd did not influence pregnancy rates over three calf crops; however, first calf adjusted weaning weights and ADG were greater for calves born earlier. Development costs were $11/heifer more for heifers developed to calve in May vs. June. Developing spring-born heifers to 53% of mature BW did not adversely affect reproduction or calf production traits compared with developing heifers to 58% of mature BW, and it decreased development costs. Breeding summer-born heifers before the cowherd increased heifer development costs, increased calving difficulty, and improved calf performance, but had no effect on pregnancy rates.
  • D J Ambrose
  • Kastelic
  • P A Corbett
  • Pitney
  • J A Petit
  • P Small
  • Zalkovic
Ambrose DJ, JP Kastelic, R Corbett, PA Pitney, HV Petit, JA Small and P Zalkovic. J Dairy Sci, 2006, 89: 3067-3074.
  • B Bao
  • Thomas
  • Griffith
  • G L Burghardt
  • Williams
Bao B, MG Thomas, MK Griffith, RC Burghardt, and GL Williams. Biol Reprod, 1995, 53: 1271-1279.
  • T R Bilby
  • B Block
  • O Do-Amaral
  • Sa
  • Ft Silvestre
  • C R Hansen
  • Staples
  • Thatcher
Bilby TR, J Block, B C Do-Amaral, O Sa, FT Silvestre, PJ Hansen, CR Staples and WW Thatcher. J Dairy Sci, 2006, 89: 3891-3903.