Gonadotrophin releasing hormone agonist and bovine ovarian function
Imprecise control of bovine oestrus and ovulation and the highly variable nature of the superovulatory response impedes use of reproductive technologies. The use of GnRH to control antral follicle development and, hence, the oestrous cycle was investigated using 40 maiden heifers. Two GnRH agonist sources (Fertagyl; Receptal) were tested at two frequencies (24; 48 hour) and luteinising hormone release profile; and pattern of antral follicle and luteal development were monitored. Post cessation of GnRH treatment gonadotrophin was given at either a fixed or variable time relative to oestrus and superovulatory response assessed. Basal LH values were unaffected by treatment. Treatment at 24, but not 48 hour intervals resulted in reduced LH response values. Fertagyl 24 hour treatment stimulated increased numbers of follicles to grow to 3-5 mm and 6-9 mm but inhibited growth to 10 mm, maturation and ovulation. Four waves of follicular development occurred in GnRH agonist, but not control, animals. Luteolysis and oestrus was delayed in a proportion of animals challenged with prostaglandin during GnRH agonist treatment. Exogenous gonadotrophin given at fixed time (day 10 1 where oestrus = day 0) post cessation of treatment, elicited a greater superovulatory response than when given at variable time. There was a positive relationship between number of ovulations and viable embryos; and a negative relationship between body weight and progesterone concentration and consequently superovulatory response. High superovulatory responses were observed when gonadotrophin treatment was initiated in the presence of an active corpus luteum and the absence of a dominant follicle. It was concluded that GnRH agonist given every 24 hours depleted LH reserves; allowed selection and dominance of antral follicles, but not maturation and ovulation; precluded prostaglandin induced luteolysis in some animals; and increased ovulations and embryos when gonadotrophin treatment was at a fixed time.