High versus low body condition in mares: Interactions with responses to somatotropin, GnRH analog, and dexamethasone

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Mares that had previously been fed to attain body condition scores (BCS) of 7.5 to 8.5 (high) or 3.0 to 3.5 (low) were used to determine the interaction of BCS with the responses to 1) administration of equine somatotropin (eST) daily for 14 d beginning January 20 followed by administration of GnRH analog (GnRHa) daily for 21 d and 2) 4-d treatment with dexamethasone later in the spring when mares in low BCS had begun to ovulate. The majority of mares with high BCS continued to cycle throughout the winter, as evidenced by larger ovaries (P < 0.002), more corpora lutea (P < 0.05), greater progesterone concentrations during eST treat-ment (P < 0.04), and more (P < 0.05) large- and medium-sized follicles. Treatment with eST alone or in combination with GnRHa had no effect (P > 0.05) on ovarian activity or ovulation. Plasma leptin concentrations were greater (P < 0.002) in mares with high BCS; however, there was no effect (P > 0.10) of eST treatment. Plasma IGF-I concentrations were greater (P < 0.0001) in mares treated with eST compared with mares given vehicle, and mares with high BCS had greater IGF-I (P < 0.02) and LH concentrations (P < 0.02) than mares with low BCS. Plasma leptin concentrations in mares with high BCS were increased (P < 0.001) within 12 h of dexamethasone treatment; the leptin response (P < 0.001) in mares with low BCS was greatly reduced (P < 0.001) and transient. Glucose and insulin concentrations also increased (P < 0.0001) after dexamethasone treatment in both groups, and the magnitude of the response was greater (P < 0.0001) in mares with high BCS than in mares with low BCS. In summary, low BCS in mares was associated with a consistent seasonal anovulatory state that was affected little by eST and GnRHa administration. In contrast, all but one mare with high BCS continued to experience estrous cycles and(or) have abundant follicular activity on their ovaries. The IGF-I response to eST treatment was also reduced in mares with low BCS, as was the basal leptin concentration and leptin response to dexamethasone. Although low BCS and leptin concentrations were associated with inactive ovaries during winter and early spring, mares with low BCS eventually ovulated in April and May while leptin concentrations remained low. ©2002 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.

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Journal of Animal Science

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