Effects of luteectomy on the maintenance of pregnancy, circulating progesterone concentrations and lambing performance in sheep
K. H. Al-Gubory, A. Solari and B. Mirman
Reproduction, Fertility and Development
11(6) 317 - 322
In sheep, there have been few and conflicting data regarding the necessity of the corpus luteum (CL) for the maintenance of pregnancy. The aims of the present study were to examine the effect of luteectomy on and after Day 50 of pregnancy on maternal plasma progesterone concentrations and the progression of pregnancy, to determine the minimum placental progesterone support required for the maintenance of pregnancy, and to evaluate the effect of luteectomy on lambing performance. In Experiment 1, four ewes luteectomized on Day 50 of pregnancy aborted 2–7 days after surgery, whereas pregnancy progressed and parturition occurred between Days 143 and 149, with live lambs, in three of four ewes and in four ewes luteectomized on Days 60 and 70 of pregnancy respectively. The mean ( SEM) progesterone concentrations on the day before and one day after luteectomy decreased from 4.87 0.85 to 0.42 0.06 ng mL –1 (P<0.01), from 4.57 0.51 to 0.80 0.12 ng mL –1 (P<0.02) and from 6.05 0.52 to 1.67 0.11 ng mL –1 (P<0.01), respectively, for the ewes luteectomized on Days 50, 60 and 70 of pregnancy. The fall in progesterone concentrations was 90%, 80% and 71%, respectively, for the ewes luteectomized on Days 50, 60 and 70 of pregnancy. In Experiment 2, pregnancy progressed in four ewes luteectomized on Day 70 and parturition occurred between Days 146 and 149, with live lambs. The mean progesterone concentrations declined (P<0.01) from 6.9 0.7 ng mL –1 on the day before luteectomy to 2.1 0.3 ng mL –1 the day after surgery. The concentrations of progesterone in blood collected every 3 h during a 24-h period were stable on Days 60 and 80 of pregnancy, but they were lower (P<0.03) on Day 80 than on Day 60 of pregnancy, for each time period examined. In Experiment 3, the gestation length and birthweights of single, twin and triplet lambs were not different between the control intact ewes (n = 111) and the ewes luteectomized on Days 70–80 of pregnancy (n = 71). Lamb mortality was not different between the two groups (7.2% v. 8.4%, control v. luteectomized). In conclusion, these results showed that (1) the sheep CL is necessary to maintain pregnancy until at least Day 60, (2) progesterone withdrawal induced by luteectomy on and after Day 50 of pregnancy must be of a critical magnitude to provoke abortion, (3) after Day 60 of pregnancy, the CL and the placenta together secrete more progesterone than required for pregnancy maintenance, (4) there is no apparent 24- hour rhythm in maternal plasma progesterone concentrations before and after luteectomy, and (5) luteectomy at mid pregnancy has no apparent effect on gestation length, lamb birthweight or lamb mortality. Keywords: abortion, corpus luteum, gestation length.
Full text doi:10.1071/RD99079
© CSIRO 1999