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Role of melatonin on embryo viability in sheep

Abecia, José-Alfonso, Forcada, Fernando, Vázquez, María-Isabel, Muiño-Blanco, Teresa, Cebrián-Pérez, José A., Pérez-Pe, Rosaura, Casao, Adriana
Reproduction, fertility, and development 2019 v.31 no.1 pp. 82-92
breeding season, corpus luteum, ewes, lambing, lambs, litter size, melatonin, oocytes, pineal body, pregnancy, viability
Melatonin is a natural hormone synthesised in the pineal gland, the activity of which is regulated by day–night perception and dictates seasonal rhythms in reproduction in ovine species. Exogenous melatonin, administered via subcutaneous implants, is used to prolong the breeding season of ewes and can increase the proportion of pregnant ewes (fertility rate) and litter size. The increased proportion of ewes that become pregnant and the number of lambs born per lambing among melatonin-treated sheep may be caused by increased embryo survival, through enhanced luteal function, reduced antiluteolytic mechanisms, or improved embryo quality. This review focuses on the effects of melatonin on embryo viability and summarises the processes by which this hormone affects the ovary, follicle, oocyte, corpus luteum and embryo. Moreover, the effects of melatonin on the mechanisms of invivo maternal recognition of pregnancy in sheep and the protective action that it appears to have on the invitro procedures that are used to obtain healthy embryos are reviewed.