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Article     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 26(2)

Reductions in the number of mid-sized antral follicles are associated with markers of premature ovarian senescence in dairy cows

Silvia C. Modina A B, Irene Tessaro A, Valentina Lodde A, Federica Franciosi A, Davide Corbani A and Alberto M. Luciano A

A Reproductive and Developmental Biology Laboratory, Department of Health, Animal Sciences and Food Safety, Università degli Studi di Milano, via G. Celoria 10, 20133, Milano, Italy.
B Corresponding author. Email: silvia.modina@unimi.it

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 26(2) 235-244 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RD12295
Submitted: 13 September 2012  Accepted: 26 November 2012   Published: 18 January 2013


 
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Abstract

High-producing dairy cows are subfertile; however, the mechanisms responsible for the decreased fertility are unknown. The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that culled dairy cows (4–8 years old) characterised by ‘Lo’ ovaries (i.e. those with <10 mid-antral follicles) are affected by premature ovarian senescence. Cows in which both ovaries were ‘Lo’ ovaries represented 5% of the total population analysed, and exhibited reduced ovarian size (P < 0.001) and increased perifollicular stroma (P < 0.05) compared with age-matched controls (i.e. cows in which both ovaries had >10 mid-antral follicles; ‘Hi’ ovaries). The total number of follicles, including healthy and atretic primordial, primary, secondary and small antral follicles, was lower in Lo ovaries (P < 0.01). Interestingly, the primordial follicle population in Lo ovaries was lower (P < 0.05) than in the control. Finally, the follicular fluid of mid-antral follicles from Lo ovaries had reduced oestradiol and anti-Müllerian hormone levels (P < 0.05), but increased progesterone concentrations (P < 0.05). Together, these data account for the reduced fertility of cows with Lo ovaries and are in agreement with previous observations that oocytes isolated from Lo ovaries have reduced embryonic developmental competence. Cows with a specific Lo ovary condition may represent a suitable model to address the causes of low fertility in high-yielding dairy cows, as well as the condition of premature ovarian aging in single-ovulating species.

Additional keywords: anti-Müllerian hormone, infertility, ovarian aging, ovary, premature ovarian failure.


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