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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Growth, Physiology, and Reproduction

Long-term alteration of follicular steroid concentrations in relation to subclinical endometritis in postpartum dairy cows1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 89 No. 11, p. 3551-3560
    Received: Feb 08, 2011
    Accepted: June 03, 2011
    Published: December 4, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. M. P. Green 2,
  2. A. M. Ledgard*,
  3. S. E. Beaumont*,
  4. M. C. Berg*,
  5. K. P. McNatty,
  6. A. J. Peterson* and
  7. P. J. Back
  1. Animal Biosciences Section, AgResearch Ltd., Ruakura Research Centre, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand;
    School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington 6140, New Zealand; and
    Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences (IVABS), Massey University, Palmerston North 11222, New Zealand



The focus of this study was to investigate the effect of subclinical endometritis (scEndo) on ovarian follicular steroid concentrations in early postpartum pasture-fed dairy cows. Mixed-age lactating dairy cows (n = 169) were examined to ascertain uterine health status on d 21 postpartum (±3 d). From this herd, a cohort of scEndo and uninfected cows (n = 47) were selected using uterine cytology to determine scEndo. To ensure cows with scEndo were selected for the study, a conservative threshold [>18% polymorphonuclear (PMN) cells among uterine nucleated cells] was chosen as a selection threshold. Ovarian follicular dynamics were assessed by ultrasonography on d 21, 42, and 63 postpartum. On the latter 2 d, all follicles >4 mm in diameter were ablated, and 4 d later, the largest (F1) and second largest (F2) follicles were measured and their follicular fluid aspirated. Hematological variables and plasma metabolites were measured also on these days to further characterize scEndo cows. On d 21, the prevalence of scEndo was approximately 9% in this herd; by d 42 infections had self-resolved in the majority (81%) of those cows classified as having scEndo on d 21. The scEndo cows had a delayed return to cyclicity; however, no effect was evident on ovarian follicle size or growth rate. Weeks after scEndo had self-resolved and cyclicity was restored, decreased (P = 0.07) testosterone and increased (P = 0.07) cortisol concentrations were evident in F1 follicles of scEndo compared with uninfected cows. Progesterone concentrations of F1 increased (P < 0.05) in 11- to 16-mm diameter follicles of scEndo cows, whereas estradiol, androstendione, and dehydroepiandrosterone concentrations were decreased (P < 0.05) in F1 8- to 10-mm diameter follicles of scEndo cows. These 3 steroids also differed (P < 0.05) between F1 follicle size categories of scEndo but not uninfected cows. On d 21, mean plasma albumin concentration was decreased (P = 0.02) in scEndo cows. In summary, early postpartum scEndo had surprisingly long-term influences on the steroid concentrations of ovarian follicles long after infections had self-resolved. This is likely to affect oocyte quality and may partially explain the reduced conception rates and longer interval between calving and conception that are often associated with scEndo, although more detailed investigations are required to substantiate this theory.

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Copyright © 2011. American Society of Animal Science