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Reprod Fertil Dev. 2015 May 1. doi: 10.1071/RD14387. [Epub ahead of print]

The use of a synthetic progesterone, levonorgestrel (LNG), to control the oestrous cycle in the koala.


This study investigated the efficacy of a synthetic progestogen, levonorgestrel (LNG), to control koala ovarian activity for the purposes of oestrous synchronisation. Captive koalas were administered either saline control or a 70-mg LNG implant on Day 2 of oestrus. Urogenital cytology, oestrous behaviour and plasma oestradiol-17β and LH concentrations were monitored over a 6-week period. After LNG implant removal females were monitored to determine if the return to oestrus was synchronised. LNG-treated koalas immediately ceased displaying oestrous behaviour, showed no evidence of cornified epithelial cells in smears of urogenital cytology and exhibited low plasma oestradiol-17β concentrations throughout the implantation period. In contrast, oestradiol-17β levels in control koalas showed evidence of continued cyclic activity associated with behavioural oestrus and increased cornified epithelial cells in urogenital smears on Days 33 to 35 after saline injection. After implant removal, LNG-treated koalas exhibited oestrus at 13, 14, 17 and 30 days after implant removal. Plasma LH concentrations varied throughout the study period with no significant time (P = 0.49) or treatment (P = 0.13) effect. Overall results from this study suggest that LNG implants in koalas can inhibit oestrous behaviour and reduce circulating oestradiol-17β levels before oestrus, most likely by preventing development of the pre-ovulatory follicle. However, there was no evidence of LH suppression by the LNG implants. Removal of LNG implants resulted in the synchronous return to oestrus in three of the four treated koalas. Further studies on a larger population are required to validate these findings.


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