Luteal blood flow increases during the first three weeks of pregnancy in lactating dairy cows

The objectives of this experiment were to characterize luteal blood flow in pregnant and non-pregnant cows and to determine its value for early pregnancy diagnosis. Lactating dairy cows (n = 54), 5.2 0.2 y old (mean SEM), average parity 2.4 0.2, and 6 wk postpartum at the start of the study, were used. The corpus luteum (CL) was examined with transrectal color Doppler ultrasonography (10.0-MHz linear-array transducer) on Days 3, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, and 21 of the estrus cycle (estrus = Day 0). Artificially inseminated cows (n = 40) were retrospectively classified as pregnant (embryonic heartbeat on Day 25; n = 18), nonpregnant (interestrus interval 15 to 21 d, n = 18), or having an apparent early embryonic loss (interestrus interval >25 d, n = 4). There was a group by time interaction (P < 0.001) for luteal blood flow from Days 3 to 18; it was approximately 1.10 0.08 cm(2) (mean SEM) on Day 3, and increased to approximately 2.00 0.08 cm(2) on Day 13 (similar among groups). Thereafter, luteal blood flow was numerically (albeit not significantly) greater in pregnant cows, remained constant in those with apparent embryonic loss, and declined (not significantly) between Days 15 and 18 in nonpregnant cows. Luteal blood flow was greater in pregnant than in nonpregnant (P < 0.05) and nonbred cows (P < 0.05, n = 14) on Day 15 (2.50 0.16, 2.01 0.16, and 2.00 0.18 cm(2), respectively) and on Day 18 (2.40 0.19, 1.45 0.19, and 0.95 0.21 cm(2)). In cows with apparent early embryonic loss, luteal blood flow was 2.00 0.34 and 2.05 0.39 cm(2) on Days 15 and 18, which was less (not significantly) than in pregnant cows, but greater (P < 0.05) than in nonbred cows on Day 18. Although mean luteal blood flow was significantly greater in pregnant than nonpregnant (and nonbred) cows on Days 15 and 18, due to substantial variation among cows, it was not an appropriate diagnostic tool for pregnancy status. (C) 2011 Published by Elsevier Inc



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