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J Anim Sci. 2005 Apr;83(4):810-5.

Growth hormone at breeding modifies conceptus development and postnatal growth in sheep.

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Division of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown 26506, USA.


Experiments were performed to determine the effects of components of the GH-IGF axis on conceptus development and postnatal growth in sheep. In Exp. 1, ewes received one of the following treatments: 1) sustained release GH at breeding, 2) sustained release GH at breeding and estradiol-17beta at d 5 and 6, 3) only estradiol-17beta at d 5 and 6, or 4) no treatment. Uteri were flushed on d 7, and flushings were analyzed for content of IGF-I. A single injection of sustained-release bovine GH at breeding increased IGF-I content in uterine luminal flushings compared with control ewes (P < 0.05). Treatment with estradiol-17beta on d 5 and 6 after breeding did not alter IGF-I content compared with control ewes, and it blocked the effect of GH on uterine luminal IGF-I content. In Exp. 2, sustained release GH or no treatment was administered at breeding, and gravid uteri were collected at d 25, 80, or 140 of gestation. On d 80, GH-treated ewes had smaller chorioallantoic weights (P < 0.05) and tended to have more efficient placentae (fetal weight/total placental weight; P = 0.052), with a higher percentage of placental weight as cotyledons (P = 0.068) compared with control ewes. In Exp. 3, ewes were treated with or without sustained release GH at progesterone withdrawal. Lambs from GH-treated ewes were heavier at birth (P < 0.05). Lambs from GH-treated ewes reared as singles, but not lambs reared as multiples, were heavier at 30, 60 (P < 0.05), and 75 d (P = 0.075) of age than lambs from control ewes. In conclusion, ewes treated with sustained-release GH at breeding developed smaller, more efficient placentas, and had larger lambs at birth.

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