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Interrelationships among morphology, echotexture, and function of the bovine corpus luteum during the estrous cycle



Interrelationships among morphology, echotexture, and function of the bovine corpus luteum during the estrous cycle



Animal Reproduction Science 115(1-4): 18-28



It has been suggested that ultrasound image attributes are a potential indicator of physiological and functional status of the corpus luteum (CL) in several species, including cattle. The aims of this study were to evaluate CL morphological, functional and echotextural characteristics, and also to investigate the hypothesis that those attributes are correlated and change similarly throughout an estrous cycle. Ovaries of crossbred (Bos taurus taurus x Bos taurus indicus) heifers were evaluated using ultrasonography daily throughout an interestrus interval using a B-mode, real-time ultrasound machine equipped with a 5 MHz linear-array rectal transducer, during a natural estrous cycle (Experiment 1; n=12) or during a shortened cycle, with luteolysis induction 10d after estrus (Experiment 2; n=6). Blood samples were collected for assay of plasma progesterone concentrations. Corpora lutea areas were measured and daily images of each CL were videotaped and digitized for computer-assisted analysis using custom-developed software. In Experiment 1, area of luteal tissue increased until a maximum value 10d after estrus (P<0.001), followed by a plateau phase, and then a decline beginning 14 d after estrus. Luteal tissue area was highly correlated to plasma progesterone concentrations (r=0.86; P<0.001). When luteolysis was induced in Experiment 2, loss of CL function (decrease in plasma progesterone concentrations to metestrous values) preceded tissue regression by 48 h (24h compared with 72 h; P<0.001). The mean pixel value of ultrasound images did not change in Experiment 1 (P>0.70), but a day effect on this attribute was observed in Experiment 2 (P=0.052). In contrast, mean pixel value was correlated to plasma progesterone concentrations in Experiment 1 (r=-0.63; P<0.05), but not in Experiment 2 (r=-0.28; P>0.10). In regard to CL heterogeneity, defined as the standard deviation of the mean pixel value of the luteal tissue, a time effect was observed following both natural (Experiment 1; P<0.009) and luteolysis-induced (Experiment 2; P<0.05) estrous cycles (P<0.05). Moreover, this variable was correlated with plasma progesterone concentrations (r=-0.71 and -0.58 in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively; P<0.01), indicating that CL images were more heterogeneous during metestrus and after luteolysis (functional regression). In summary, morphological and echotextural attributes were correlated with CL function and underwent similar changes during the estrous cycle. Luteal tissue heterogeneity, assessed by ultrasonography, is considered a potential indicator of CL functional status, because it is correlated to circulating progesterone concentrations.

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Accession: 053927293

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PMID: 19117703

DOI: 10.1016/j.anireprosci.2008.11.009


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