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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2005 Nov;144(2):110-21. Epub 2005 Jun 24.

Short term suppression of follicular recruitment and spontaneous ovulation in the cat using levonorgestrel versus a GnRH antagonist.

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  • 1Department of Reproductive Sciences, Conservation and Research Center, Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, Front Royal, VA 22630, USA.


Suppression and subsequent rebound of ovarian activity using a progestin (levonorgestrel; Norplant) versus a GnRH antagonist (antide) was assessed in the domestic cat via fecal estradiol and progesterone metabolite analyses. Following an initial dose-response trial, queens were assigned to one of four treatments: (1) antide, two 6 mg/kg injections 15 days apart (n = 8 cats); (2) levonorgestrel, six silastic rods (36 mg levonorgestrel/rod) implanted for 30 days (n = 8); (3) control injections (n = 5); and (4) control implants (n = 5). Steroid metabolites were quantified from daily fecal samples for 90 days before, 30 days during, and 90 days after treatment. Antide and levonorgestrel inhibited estrous cyclicity in contrast to continued cyclicity in controls. Cats already at estradiol baseline in antide (n = 7) and levonorgestrel (n = 4) groups remained inhibited during treatment. In females with elevated estradiol levels at treatment onset (Day 0), a normal estradiol surge was completed before concentrations declined to baseline (approximately Days 5-7) and remained suppressed throughout the remaining treatment period. Additionally, 56% of treatment animals exhibited at least one spontaneous ovulation during the pre-treatment period, but no female ovulated during treatment with levonorgestrel or antide. Antide-treated cats exhibited lower (P < 0.05) baseline estradiol concentrations during treatment compared to pre- and post-treatment. In contrast, levonorgestrel induced elevations in baseline estradiol following treatment compared to pre- and during treatment intervals. Control females showed no change (P > 0.05) in baseline estradiol throughout the study period. All levonorgestrel and antide cats returned to estrus after treatment withdrawal. Results demonstrate that: (1) both antide and levonorgestrel are effective for inducing short-term suppression of follicular recruitment and ovulation in the cat; (2) inhibition is reversible; and (3) GnRH antagonists and progestins differentially regulate basal estradiol secretion. This study also confirmed a relatively high incidence of spontaneous ovulation in the cat, a species generally considered to be an induced ovulator.

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