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PeerJ. 2019 Apr 25;7:e6750. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6750. eCollection 2019.

Melatonin improves the efficiency of super-ovulation and timed artificial insemination in sheep.

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College of Animal Science, Xinjiang Agricultural University, Urumqi, Xinjiang, China.
National Engineering Laboratory for Animal Breeding, Key Laboratory of Animal Genetics and Breeding of the Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing Key Laboratory for Animal Genetic Improvement, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, Beijing, China.
Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary, Academy of Agricultural Sciences of Tianjin, Tianjin, Tianjin, China.


It has been well proved that melatonin participates in the regulation of the seasonal reproduction of ewes. However, the effects of short term treatment of melatonin on ewe's ovulation are still to be clarified. In this study, the effects of melatonin on the number of embryos harvested from superovulation, and the pregnant rate in recipients after embryo transferred have been investigated. Hu sheep with synchronous estrus treatment were given melatonin subcutaneously injection (0, 5, and 10 mg/ewe, respectively). It was found that the estrogen level in the group of 5 mg melatonin was significantly higher than that of other two groups at the time of sperm insemination (p < 0.05). The pregnant rate and number of lambs in the group of 5 mg melatonin treatment was also significantly higher than that of the rests of the groups (P < 0.05). In another study, 31 Suffolk ewes as donors and 103 small-tailed han sheep ewes as recipients were used to produce pronuclear embryo and embryo transfer. Melatonin (5 mg) was given to the donors during estrus. The results showed that, the number of pronuclear embryos and the pregnancy rate were also significantly higher in melatonin group than that in the control group. In addition, 28 donors and 44 recipient ewes were used to produce morula/blastocyst and embryo transferring. Melatonin (5 mg) was given during estrus. The total number of embryos harvested (7.40 ± 1.25/ewe vs. 3.96 ± 0.73/ewe, P < 0.05) and the pregnant rate (72.3 ± 4.6% vs. 54.7 ± 4.0%, P < 0.05) and number of lambs were also increased in melatonin group compared to the control group. Collectively, the results have suggested that melatonin treatment 36 hours after CIDR withdrawal could promote the number and quality of embryos in vivo condition and increased the pregnant rate and number of lambs.


Embryo transfer; Melatonin; Pregnancy; Sheep; Superovulation

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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