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Theriogenology. 2006 Nov;66(8):1866-75. Epub 2006 Jun 15.

Influence of immunization against GnRH on reproductive cyclicity and estrous behavior in the mare.

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National Stud, Avenches, Switzerland.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of active immunization against GnRH on ovarian activity, plasma progesterone and estradiol concentrations and on estrous behavior in adult mares. Eighteen cyclic mares were randomly divided into a treatment and control group. Nine mares were immunized twice with 2 mL (400 microg GnRH-protein conjugate) of a GnRH-vaccine (Improvac, CSL Limited, Australia) administered intramuscularly, 4 weeks apart. Control mares received the same amount of saline solution. Ovaries and uterus of all mares were examined weekly by ultrasonography from 3 weeks before to 60 weeks after first immunization. Thereafter, vaccinated mares were evaluated monthly until 100 weeks after first vaccination. In addition, mares were teased with a stallion for assessment of estrous behavior and blood was collected for progesterone, estradiol-17beta and GnRH antibody titer determination. Results demonstrate that vaccination against GnRH significantly (P<0.05) influenced all parameters, except estradiol-17beta concentration. All vaccinated mares ceased reproductive cyclicity (plasma progesterone <1 ng/mL, follicles <3 cm) within 8 weeks after the first injection and ovarian activity remained suppressed for a minimum of 23 weeks. Five mares resumed cyclicity (follicles >3 cm, progesterone >1 ng/mL) while three mares showed only follicular activity (follicles >3 cm) and one mare remained completely suppressed for the entire duration of the study. In spite of ovarian suppression, four mares expressed sporadic and one mare continuous estrous behavior. In conclusion, reproductive cyclicity in adult mares can be successfully suppressed by immunization against GnRH but the timing of resumption of cyclicity is highly variable and estrous behavior may occur in spite of ovarian suppression.

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