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Biol Reprod. 2010 Oct;83(4):648-55. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.109.082016. Epub 2010 Jul 7.

Effects of the rate and duration of physiological increases in serum FSH concentrations on emergence of follicular waves in cyclic ewes.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


Large antral follicles grow in waves in the ewe, with each wave triggered by a peak in serum FSH concentrations. In this study, our objectives were to determine if the slope of the rise in the FSH peak affects the ability of the peak to trigger wave emergence (experiment 1), and whether increasing serum FSH concentrations and holding them at peak concentrations would provide a stimulus for constant emergence of large antral follicles (experiment 2). In experiment 1, cyclic ewes received ovine FSH (n = 6; 0.1 μg/kg, s.c.) or vehicle (n = 6; control) every 6 h for 42 h. This treatment created a peak in serum FSH concentrations (P < 0.05) during the early growth phase of the first follicular wave of the interovulatory interval and enhanced the growth of follicles in that wave (P < 0.05), but did not trigger emergence of a follicular wave. In experiment 2, cyclic ewes were infused constantly with oFSH (1.98 μg/h; n = 6) or vehicle (control; n = 6) for 60 h starting at the time of the second endogenously driven FSH peak of the interovulatory interval. Infusion of oFSH resulted in a super-stimulatory effect, with a peak in the mean number of large follicles (≥5 mm) on Day 2 after the start of FSH infusion (13 ± 1.2 large follicles per ewe, 1.8 ± 0.2 in control ewes; P < 0.001). In conclusion, exposing early growing antral follicles in a wave to a gradual increase in serum concentrations of FSH enhanced their growth, but did not trigger the expected new follicular wave, and infusion of a dose of oFSH within the physiological range caused a super-ovulatory response in cyclic ewes.

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