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Beef heifers with diminished numbers of antral follicles have decreased uterine protein concentrations

Anthony K. McNeel, Émerson M. Soares, Allyson L. Patterson, Jeffrey L. Vallet, Elane C. Wright, Erin L. Larimore, Olivia L. Amundson, Jeremy R. Miles, Chadwick C. Chase, Clay A. Lents, Jennifer R. Wood, Andrea S. Cupp, George A. Perry, Robert A. Cushman
Animal reproduction science 2017 v.179 pp. 1-9
Angus, beef cattle, endometrium, estrous cycle, heifers, morphometry, ovarian follicles, prostaglandins, protein content, ultrasonography
Previous research demonstrated a favorable relationship between the number of follicles detectable in the bovine ovary by ultrasonography and fertility, and bovine females with diminished numbers of antral follicles had smaller reproductive tracts. Therefore, we hypothesized that uterine function would be compromised in beef heifers with diminished numbers of antral follilcles. Angus heifers (n=480) were submitted for ultrasonographic evaluation of antral follicle number at 325 and 355d of age. After the second ultrasonographic examination, 40 pubertal heifers with the greatest average number of antral follicles (30.9±0.7) and 40 pubertal heifers with the lowest average number of antral follicles (14.2±0.7) were synchronized with two i.m. injections of prostaglandin F2α (25mg) administered 11d apart, and heifers were slaughtered on d6 (n=26 heifers/group) or d16 (n=14 heifers/group) of the resultant estrous cycle. The uterus was weighed, flushed for determination of protein content, and representative samples were fixed for determination of endometrial gland morphometry. Heifers in the Low group had fewer surface antral follicles and smaller reproductive tracts than heifers in the High group (P<0.01). Protein content of the uterine flushes was decreased in heifers in the Low group (P<0.01); however, there was no difference in the percent area of the endometrium occupied by endometrial glands. From these results, we conclude that the uterine environment of beef heifers with diminished numbers of antral follicles is less conducive to supporting early embryonic survival.