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Dietary restriction in sheep: Uterine functionality in ewes with different body reserves during early gestation

Fernández-Foren, A., Sosa, C., Abecia, J.A., Vázquez, M.I., Forcada, F., Meikle, A.
Theriogenology 2019 v.135 pp. 189-197
Rasa Aragonesa, body condition, diet therapy, dietary restriction, energy, estrogen receptors, ewes, gene expression, insulin, insulin-like growth factor I, leptin, malnutrition, messenger RNA, pregnancy, progesterone, uterus, viability
The aim of this study was to characterize insulin, leptin and IGF-1 profiles after undernutrition in pregnant ewes with different initial body condition (iBCS) and to investigate embryo quality, uterine gene expression and presence and location of proteins during early gestation (day 5). Thirty-six Rasa Aragonesa ewes were divided into 2 groups with different BCS: BCS> 2.75 (high, H, n = 19) and BCS <2.25 (low, L, n = 17) and they were randomly assigned to two nutritional treatments: 1.5 maintenance (M) (control, C) or 0.5 (M) (undernourishment, U) times the daily maintenance requirements establishing four groups: high-iBCS control (HC, n = 9), high-iBCS undernourished (HU, n = 10), low-iBCS control (LC, n = 9) and low-iBCS undernourished (LU, n = 8). High-iBCS ewes presented higher concentration of IGF-1, reflecting a better metabolic status in these animals. There was a greater proportion of high-iBCS ewes presenting more than one CL (P < 0.05), and associated greater P4 plasma concentration, number of recovered embryo and a tendency for higher embryo viability rate (P = 0.13). In uterus, undernourished ewes tended to present lower P4 (P = 0.09) and higher E2 concentration (P = 0.10). Inmunostaining of uterine progesterone and estrogen receptors (PR and ERα) was not affected by iBCS and nutritional treatment. Ewes with low-iBCS tended to have more INSR mRNA, and undernourished ewes tended to have more IGFBP2 mRNA expression (P < 0.08). An interesting finding was that the uterine response to undernutrition was dependent on iBCS: a higher expression of GHR (P < 0.05) and a tendency in IGFBP5 (P = 0.09) mRNA was found in undernourished than control ewes but only in the high-iBCS group. In summary, the present study demonstrates that the endocrine response and the uterine gene expression to undernutrition depend on the initial body energy reserves (iBCS) and appears to be associated with a differential embryo quality.