Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences


Dirk K. Vanderwall


Holly M. Mason


S. Clay Isom


Prolonging function of the corpus luteum (CL) is a method of suppressing estrus that maintains secretion of endogenous progesterone to keep mares out of heat naturally. The use of oxytocin to prolong CL function is becoming more popular. In these therapies, upregulation of cyclooxygenase-2 is inhibited, which impairs prostaglandin F2α ( PGF2α) production. Intramuscular (IM) administration of 60 IU of oxytocin once daily from 7 to 14 days after ovulation is currently the most common treatment protocol. Although that protocol is efficacious in ≥70% of treated mares, the need for daily administration is a drawback to its use. A proprietary slow-release oxytocin formulation (SR-OT) with a two-injection protocol to prolong CL function was evaluated in the first experiment. Mares were examined to determine the day of ovulation (day 0) and then randomly assigned either to a non-treated control group or an SR-OT treatment group (n = 8 mares/group). Mares in the treated group received 1.0 mL of SR-OT containing 2,400 IU oxytocin IM once on Day 7 and again on Day 10 after ovulation. Jugular blood samples were collected on day 0 and then every M, W, and F continuously. Serum progesterone concentrations were evaluated to assess CL function, which was prolonged in 0/8 (0%) control mares and 6/8 (75%) of the SR-OT treated mares (p< 0.01). In a second study, the ability of the endometrium to synthesize PGF2α was evaluated in mares in a state of prolonged CL function. Mares were designated into groups 50-59, 60-69, or 70-79 days post-ovulation (50s, 60s, 70s) and 14-day post-ovulation controls. PGF2α synthesis was evaluated by measurement of a prostaglandin metabolite in response to a single 10 IU intravenous oxytocin bolus (0 minutes). Blood samples were collected serially from 30 minutes before until 120 minutes after oxytocin administration. The metabolite response was significantly higher in the 70s versus the 50s and 70s versus the 60s groups (p< 0.001; p< 0.02, respectively); and there was no significant difference between the 70s group and the control group (P>0.36). Luteal function was maintained after oxytocin administration in 4/4, 3/4, and 0/3 mares in the 50s, 60s, and 70s groups, respectively. Collectively, these results indicate that the luteolytic mechanism returns approximately 70 days into the period of prolonged CL function.