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The effects of dexamethasone and prednisolone on pituitary and ovarian function in the mare.

Author(s): Ferris RA, McCue PM

Affiliation(s): Equine Reproduction Laboratory, Colorado State University, USA. ryan.ferris@colostate.edu

Publication date & source: 2010-07, Equine Vet J., 42(5):438-43.

Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial

REASONS FOR PERFORMING STUDY: Persistent mating induced endometritis is among the most common causes of infertility in the mare. Recently, improved pregnancy rates have been reported when corticosteroids were administered to 'problem mares' specifically, to modulate the post mating inflammatory response; however, the effect of treatment on pituitary and ovarian function requires further study. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effects of prolonged treatment with glucocorticoids on pituitary and ovarian function. METHODS: Eighteen cycling Quarter Horse mares in early oestrus were assigned randomly to one of 3 treatment groups: dexamethasone 0.05 mg/kg bwt i.v. twice a day, prednisolone 0.5 mg/kg per os twice a day, or placebo for 5 days. Mares were examined by ultrasound daily to evaluate reproductive function. Blood samples were collected daily to measure luteinising hormone (LH), progesterone and cortisol levels. RESULTS: Dexamethasone treatment caused greater (P<0.05) suppression of endogenous cortisol concentration (9.4 +/- 1.1 ng/ml) compared to prednisolone- (41.9 +/- 4.0 ng/ml) or placebo-treated mares (32.4 +/- 3.8 ng/ml). After 24 h, mares treated with dexamethasone exhibited lower uterine oedema scores than prednisolone- or placebo-treated mares. An ovulation rate of 40% was observed in dexamethasone-treated mares (2/5) compared to 83% for prednisolone (5/6) and 100% for placebo-treated (6/6) mares. An absence of a LH surge was noted in 3 of 5 dexamethasone-treated mares and one of 6 prednisolone-treated mares. CONCLUSIONS: Repeated administration of dexamethasone to mares in oestrus is associated with decreased uterine oedema, suppression of LH and a high rate of ovulation failure. It is recommended that dexamethasone treatment is limited to only 1 or 2 days and that a lower dose is considered in the management of persistent mating induced endometritis to avoid potential adverse affects on reproductive function.

Page last updated: 2010-10-05

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