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Influence of age and ovarian antral follicle count on the reproductive characteristics of embryo donor mares

Abstract

Background Age and antral follicle count (AFC) are related to fertility in cattle, but this information remains limited in mares.

Methods To verify the influence of age and AFC on the reproductive characteristics of mares, 15 Quarter Horse donors, with 5–15 antral follicles, ranging from three to 17 years old, healthy and in good nutritional status, were divided into groups with low AFC (≤9 follicles) or high AFC (≥10 follicles) and mares considered young (≤9 years) or old (≥10 years). Mares were submitted to ultrasonography to determine the dominant follicle diameter, follicular growth rate, degree of uterine oedema and embryonic recovery for a minimum of three oestrous cycles.

Results AFC was higher (P=0.001) in young mares compared with old mares. An interaction (P=0.001) between AFC and age was observed with regard to follicular growth rate, being that mares with low AFC and are old showed the lowest follicular growth compared with those of low AFC and young, high AFC and old, and high AFC and young. Younger mares and those with high AFC exhibited higher degree of uterine oedema (P<0.05) on the third day of oestrus compared with older mares and with low AFC (3 and 2, respectively). However, in both groups, the degree of oedema reduced by the time of ovulation.

Conclusion Follicular growth rate, degree of uterine oedema and the number of antral follicles are higher in young mares with high AFC. However, the rate of embryonic recovery is not influenced by donors’ age or AFC.

  • equine
  • ovaries
  • follicular population
  • Ultrasonography
  • embryo collection
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