Effect of oxytocin on suppression of oestrus in mares exhibiting normal oestrous cycles

Effect of oxytocin on suppression of oestrus in mares exhibiting normal oestrous cycles
Peer reviewed


AIM: To compare the efficacy of oxytocin given once daily, either I/V or I/M, on Days 7–14 post-ovulation, on the expression of oestrus in mares through to 65 days post-ovulation.

METHODS: Eighteen mares of various breeds that were displaying normal oestrous cycles were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups on the day of ovulation (Day 0), detected using transrectal ultrasonography. Mares in the control group (n = 6) were given 1 mL saline I/V; mares in the I/V and I/M groups (n = 6 per group) were injected with 10 IU oxytocin I/V and I/M, respectively. All treatments were given once daily on Days 7–14. Mares were teased by a stallion three times per week, up to 65 days post-ovulation, to detect oestrous or dioestrous behaviour. Ovarian follicular and luteal activity were monitored using transrectal ultrasonography three times weekly, and daily when a follicle >30 mm diameter was present until ovulation. Blood samples were collected weekly for analysis of concentrations of progesterone in serum. Prolonged dioestrus was defined as a period of >30 days of dioestrous behaviour after Day 0, confirmed by detection of corpora lutea and concentrations of progesterone in serum >4 nmol/L.

RESULTS: Overall, 8/18 (44%) mares showed prolonged dioestrus. These included 2/6 (33%) mares in the control group, compared with 5/6 (83%) and 1/6 (16%) mares in the I/V and I/M groups, respectively (p = 0.11). The median duration of the first dioestrus was longer for the I/V group (64 (min 16, max 66) days) compared with the control group (18 (min 12, max 64) days) (p = 0.05), but was not different between the control group and the I/M group (16 (min 13, max 65) days) (p = 0.57). For all mares there was strong agreement between teasing behaviours, ultrasonographic assessment of ovarian activity, and concentration of progesterone in serum.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: This study found that low doses of oxytocin did not increase the proportion of mares with prolonged dioestrus, compared with controls, although I/V oxytocin did increase the median duration of dioestrus. The results must be interpreted with some caution as group numbers were small, and a variety of breeds were used. Further investigation of oxytocin given I/V may be warranted as a potential method of oestrus suppression in mares exhibiting oestrous cycles that is low cost, safe and well-tolerated, and potentially reversible with prostaglandin.

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