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Theriogenology. 2013 May;79(8):1177-1183.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2013.02.016. Epub 2013 Mar 25.

Length of the follicular growing phase and oocyte competence in beef heifers.

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


We tested the hypotheses that extending the duration of follicular growth by superstimulation increases oocyte competence, and that FSH starvation at the end of superstimulatory treatment decreases oocyte competence. Heifers were randomly assigned to three groups: short FSH, FSH starvation, and long FSH (N = 8 per group). At 5 to 8 days after ovulation, follicle ablation was performed, and a progesterone-releasing device (CIDR) was placed intravaginally. Short FSH and FSH starvation groups were given eight doses of FSH im at 12-hour intervals, and the long FSH group was given 14 doses. PGF2α was administered twice (12 hours apart) and the CIDR was removed on Day 3 (Day 0 = wave emergence) in the short FSH group, and on Day 6 in the other two groups. Heifers were given LH 24 hours after CIDR removal and cumulus-oocyte complexes (COC) were collected 24 hours later. The COC were matured in vitro for 6 hours and fertilized in vitro; embryos were cultured for 10 days. A greater number of follicles ≥9 mm were detected in the long FSH group than in the FSH starvation and short FSH groups (25.4 ± 5.3, 11.0 ± 2.1, 10.6 ± 2.3, respectively; P < 0.03). A greater proportion of expanded COC were collected from the long FSH than from the FSH starvation group (P < 0.001), and the short FSH group was intermediate (93%, 54%, and 74%, respectively). The FSH starvation group had a greater proportion of poor quality oocytes than the short and long FSH groups (70%, 45%, and 33%, respectively; P < 0.001) and cleavage rate was lower (22%, 54%, and 56%, respectively; P = 0.003). The proportion of oocytes that developed into embryos (morulae and blastocysts on Day 9 after IVF) was also lower in the FSH starvation group than in the short and long FSH groups, (5% vs. 25% and 37%; P = 0.04); the latter two groups did not differ. The long FSH treatment resulted in 2.5 and 3.4 times more transferable embryos per animal (morulae and blastocysts) at Day 9 after IVF than the short FSH and FSH starvation groups (5.6, 2.5, and 1.7 embryos per heifer respectively; P = 0.04). In conclusion, extending the standard superstimulation protocol by 3 days enhanced the ovarian response to FSH treatment, and a period of FSH starvation after superstimulatory treatment compromised oocyte quality and the fertilization process.

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