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Animal Science

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Journal of Animal Science




Heat stress (HS) occurs when heat dissipation mechanisms are insufficient to maintain euthermia and it is associated with seasonal infertility (SI); which manifests as smaller litters, longer wean-to-estrus interval, increased abortions, and reduced conception rates. To understand HS-induced mechanisms underlying SI, crossbred post-pubertal gilts (167 ± 10 kg; n = 14) experienced either thermal neutral (TN, 20 ± 1°C, n = 7) or cyclical HS (35 ± 1°C for 12 h and 31.6°C for 12 h, n = 7) conditions from 2-12 days post estrus (dpe). Estrous cycles were synchronized via altrenogest administration for 14 d, phenotypic manifestation of estrus was observed and gilts were assigned to experimental treatment. Gilts were limit-fed 2.7 kg daily with ad libitum water access. Blood was collected at 0, 4, 8, and 12 dpe via jugular venipuncture and animals were humanely euthanized at 12 dpe. The corpora lutea (CL) width were measured via digital calipers on both ovaries and CL from one ovary were excised, weighed, and protein and steroid abundance analyzed via western blotting and ELISA, respectively. Relative to TN, HS increased (P < 0.01) rectal temperature and respiration rates and reduced (P < 0.01) feed intake. The CL from HS ovaries were reduced in diameter (P < 0.05) and weight (P < 0.01) relative to those from TN animals. No difference (P = 0.38) in CL or serum progesterone concentrations between groups was observed at any time point, though at 12 dpe the serum progesterone:CL weight was increased (P < 0.10) by HS. No treatment differences (P = 0.84) in circulating insulin were observed. Luteal protein abundance of steroid acute regulatory protein (STAR), 3 beta-hydroxysteroid (HSD3B), or prostaglandin F2α receptor (PTGFR) were not different between treatments (P = 0.73). Taken together, these data demonstrate that the CL mass is HS-sensitive, but this phenotype does not appear to be explained by the metrics evaluated herein. Regardless, HS-induced decreased CL size may have important implications to pig SI and warrants additional attention.


This is a mansuscript of an article published as Bidne, Katie L., Matthew R. Romoser, Jason W. Ross, Lance H. Baumgard, and Aileen F. Keating. "Heat stress during the luteal phase decreases luteal size but does not impact circulating progesterone in gilts." Journal of Animal Science (2019). doi: 10.1093/jas/skz251. Posted with permssion.

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