Influence of endophyte-infected tall fescue on serum prolactin and progesterone in gravid mares.

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Thirty mares in late gestation were used in a 3-yr study to assess effects of the tall fescue endophyte Acremonium coenophialum on serum prolactin (PRL) and progesterone. Two paddocks of each treatment, 0 or 100% infected 'Kentucky 31' tall fescue, were grazed by the mares for 21 d. Blood was collected three times per week until parturition. At 7-d intervals, mares were challenged with thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) while grazing and blood was collected postinjection. Mares grazing 100% infected tall fescue (E+) had decreased serum PRL compared with mares grazing the 0% infected tall fescue (E-) in 2 of 3 yr. Within 8 d postgrazing, serum PRL for E+ mares equaled or surpassed values of the E- mares. Serum PRL was not different during the 3rd yr. In response to TRH, serum PRL rate of increase was similar between treatments but remained elevated (P less than .01) in the E+ mares at the 180-, 240-, and 300-min sample times. Serum progesterone was lowered (P less than .05) by E+ but increased to control values within 10 d postgrazing. It is concluded that serum PRL and progesterone in the gravid mare were decreased by the presence of A. coenophialum in 'Kentucky 31' tall fescue grass but normal levels were reestablished within 2 to 3 wk.

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Journal of animal science

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