Prolactin Administration to Seasonally Anestrous Mares: Reproductive, Metabolic, and Hair-Shedding Responses

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Eight pony mares received 4 mg of recombinant porcine prolactin (rpPRL) daily for 45 d beginning on January 15; eight control mares received vehicle. Reproductive end points and various indicators of metabolism, hair shedding, and thyroid activity were monitored. Prolactin concentrations peaked in mares treated with rpPRL at 94 ± 19 ng/mL 2 h after injection and were 5.1 ± 1.7 ng/mL 24 h after injection. Treatment with rpPRL increased (P < .01) hair shedding within 14 d, which peaked at 28 d and then dropped precipitously. Binding of 125I-equine prolactin confirmed that antibodies were present in rpPRL-treated mares by 28 d, thus only data up to that time are included herein. The percentage of mares in estrus after 17 d of treatment was greater (P < .05) for mares treated with rpPRL than for controls, although the average day of estrus onset did not differ (P > .1). The date of first ovulation, determined from plasma progesterone concentrations, was hastened (P < .005) in mares treated with rpPRL (February 6 ± 3 d) relative to control mares (March 14 ± 6 d). Concentrations of insulin-like growth factor I and nonesterified fatty acids were not affected (P > .1) by treatment with rpPRL but did vary (P < .05) over time. There were minor differences between groups in thyroid hormone secretion. Various assessments of glucose and insulin indicated no perturbation (P > .1) due to treatment with rpPRL. We conclude that prolactin mediates the onset of vernal hair shedding in mares and is in some way involved with ovulation.

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Journal of Animal Science

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