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J Reprod Fertil. 2000 Jul;119(2):347-57.

Oxytocin release and its relationship to dihydro-15-keto PGF2alpha and arginine vasopressin release during parturition and to suckling in postpartum mares.

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  • 1Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Pituitary blood was collected from the intercavernal sinus in five mares before and during parturition, and in nine mares immediately after parturition to investigate oxytocin patterns during parturition and early lactation, and to determine the relationship between oxytocin, prostaglandin and arginine vasopressin during parturition. In four mares in which sample collection began at least 6 h before rupture of the chorioallantois, a significant increase (P < 0.05) in PGF(2alpha) concentration was detected before a significant increase in oxytocin concentration. Cross-correlation analysis of log-transformed oxytocin and PGF(2alpha) concentrations revealed a significant correlation (P < 0.05) at a 6 min lag period, indicating that in the 2 h before delivery of the foal, an increase in prostaglandin was followed 6 min later by an increase in oxytocin. A significant effect of suckling on oxytocin release by the mare was detected in only two of nine mares, when oxytocin concentrations were evaluated 0-3 min after suckling. When foals were prevented from sucking for 1 h, by being either muzzled (n = 2) or separated from the mare (n = 2), there was no significant association between resumption of suckling and oxytocin release by the mare. The results of these studies show that: (i) oxytocin secretion from the maternal posterior pituitary gland begins before, or in association with, the onset of the second stage of labour, and that prostaglandin increases in the peripheral circulation before oxytocin release; and (ii) suckling is not significantly related to oxytocin release in mares.

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