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J Dairy Sci. 2001 Sep;84(9):1998-2009.

Dexamethasone influences endocrine and ovarian function in dairy cattle.

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  • 1Department of Animal Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater 74078, USA.


Multiparous nonlactating Holstein cows were used to determine the effect of dexamethasone on ovarian follicular development and plasma hormone concentrations. Animals were randomly divided into two groups, control (C; n = 5) and treatment (T; n = 6), but managed as one group. Both groups were synchronized with two injections of PGF2alpha (25 mg i.m.) 11 d apart. One day after ovulation (d 0) the T group received a daily injection of dexamethasone (44 microg/kg of body weight; i.m.) until the first dominant follicle stopped growing or up to d 12 postovulation. The C group received vehicle injections. Blood samples were collected daily from all cows. Concentrations of LH and FSH did not differ between the C and T cows, whereas progesterone concentrations were lower in T than in C cows from d 4 onward. Treatment x day interaction influenced plasma insulin concentrations such that T cows had insulin concentrations 2.9- to 6.0-fold those of C cows between d 2 and 9. Dexamethasone decreased IGF-I and -II concentrations from d 5 onward. Concentrations of plasma leptin and the various IGF binding proteins were not affected by dexamethasone. Total number of follicles (> or = 5 mm) and plasma estradiol concentrations were less in T than in C cows on d 0, 1, and 4. The growth rate of the dominant follicles and maximum diameter of the dominant and subordinate follicles were not affected by dexamethasone. The diameter of the CL was 21 to 39% larger in T than in C cows between d 6 and 10. Treatment x day interaction influenced plasma cholesterol concentrations such that cholesterol levels decreased 46.8% in T cows and 19.5% in C cows between d 0 and 10. Plasma glucose concentrations were greater in T than in C cows between d 1 and 10. In summary, dexamethasone had significant effects on metabolism without a major impact on growth of the first-wave dominant follicle. Dexamethasone-induced suppression of luteal function was associated with decreased plasma IGF-I and -II concentrations.

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