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Effect of genotype at the MTNR1A locus and melatonin treatment on first conception in Sarda ewe lambs

Mura, M.C., Luridiana, S., Vacca, G.M., Bini, P.P., Carcangiu, V.
Theriogenology 2010 v.74 no.9 pp. 1579-1586
Sardinian (sheep breed), female reproductive system, periodicity, physiological regulation, genotype, genes, loci, melatonin, hormone receptors, gene expression regulation, drug therapy, drug implants, ewes, female fertility, conception, pregnancy rate, parturition interval, dosage, dose response, genetic markers
A sample of 423 Sarda ewe lambs from three different farms was used to evaluate the effect of one or two melatonin implants on the time of first conception. On each farm, 141 animals were divided into three groups. On June 30 these animals received either no treatment (Group C), 18 mg melatonin (Group M1, one implant), or 18 + 18 mg melatonin (Group M2, two implants). Thirty-five days after treatment, rams were introduced in the ewe lambs flock and subsequently removed after 40 days. Lambing dates were recorded between 150 and 190 days from the first day of male introduction. Genotyping and sequencing of the MT1 exon 2 were carried out to analyze the structure and the possible influence of the MT1 receptor gene on reproductive response to melatonin treatment. Melatonin-treated animals had a higher rate of pregnancy (P < 0.05) and lambed earlier (P < 0.05) compared with untreated animals. Single nucleotide polymorphisms were found in exon II of MT1 gene at positions C606T and G612A leading to genotypes C/C, C/T or T/T and +/+, +/− and −/−, respectively. Melatonin-treated animals of +/+ genotype showed a higher number of pregnancies (P < 0.05) and lambed earlier (P < 0.05) compared to untreated animals of the same genotype. Melatonin treatment did not affect reproductive activity in any other genotype analyzed. No correlation between genotype and the time of first conception was found in untreated animals. Concluding data revealed the positive effect of melatonin treatment on the time of first conception in ewe lambs and highlighted that +/+ genotype is able to influence reproductive response to melatonin treatment.