Ultrasonographic study of ovarian function during early pregnancy and after parturition in the ewe

Theriogenology. 2000 Feb;53(3):673-89. doi: 10.1016/S0093-691X(99)00266-6.

Abstract

Transrectal ultrasonography of ovaries was performed in 11 ewes from Days 10 to 26 and on Day 30 of pregnancy to record the number, size, and position of ovarian follicles > or = 3 mm in diameter and corpora lutea (CL). Transrectal and/or transabdominal ultrasonography of the uterus was performed on Days 10 to 26, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 of gestation to ascertain the number and position of the conceptuses. In a second experiment, ultrasonography was conducted in 15 ewes on Days 10, 25, 30, 45 and 50 of pregnancy and from Days 13 to 29 after parturition. Ovarian data were classified into ovaries without CL (Group 1), ovaries with the CL in 1 ovary (Group 2), and ovaries with the CL in both ovaries during pregnancy (Group 3). In early pregnant ewes, the total number of follicles and the diameter of all follicles > or = 3 mm were smaller (P < 0.05) in the CL-bearing ovaries (both Group 2, n = 7 and Group 3, n = 8) than in the non-CL-bearing ovaries (Group 1, n = 7), while the largest follicle diameter was significantly smaller in Group 3 than in Group 1 or 2 ovaries. The number of 3-mm follicles in Group 2 ovaries was lower (P < 0.05) than in Group 1 or 3 ovaries, but the mean number of follicles > or = 5 mm in diameter was significantly lower in Group 3 than in Group 1. The total luteal volume per ovary was higher (P < 0.001) in Group 2 than in Group 3 ovaries of early pregnant ewes. The total follicle diameter and the number of follicles growing from 3 to > or = 5 mm in diameter was lower (P < 0.05) for Group 2 ovaries of ewes that carried twins (n = 3) compared with Group 2 ovaries from ewes with singletons (n = 4). There were no differences in follicular dynamics between Group 3 ovaries and the ovaries of Group 2 in ewes that carried twins. No follicles > 3 mm were seen in the ovaries of postpartum ewes that contained CL during gestation, until Days 21 and 25 postpartum for Groups 2 (n = 10) and 3 (n = 8), respectively, and follicles reaching > or = 5 mm in diameter were detected in only 2 ovaries (Group 2), on Days 27 and 28 postpartum, respectively. We conclude that during early pregnancy in ewes there is a suppression of antral follicle growth which appears to be exerted primarily by the developing conceptus but remains confined to CL-bearing ovaries. Residual local inhibition of follicular development extends into the postpartum period.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corpus Luteum / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Ovarian Follicle / diagnostic imaging
  • Ovary / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ovary / physiology*
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Sheep / anatomy & histology
  • Sheep / embryology
  • Sheep / physiology*
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / veterinary