One of the postulated main luteolytic actions of prostaglandin (PG) F2α is to decrease ovarian blood flow. However, before Day 5 of the normal cycle, the corpus luteum (CL) is refractory to the luteolytic action of PGF2α. Therefore, we aimed to determine in detail the real-time changes in intraluteal blood flow after PGF2α injection at the early and middle stages of the estrous cycle in the cow. Normally cycling cows at Day 4 (early CL, n = 5) or Days 10–12 (mid CL, n = 5) of the estrous cycle (estrus = Day 0) were examined by transrectal color and pulsed Doppler ultrasonography to determine the blood flow area, the time-averaged maximum velocity (TAMXV), and the volume of the CL after an i.m. injection of a PGF2α analogue. Ultrasonographic examinations were carried out just before PG injection (0 h) and then at 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 24, and 48 h after the injection. Blood samples were collected at each of these times for progesterone (P) determination. The ratio of the colored area to a sectional plane at the maximum diameter of the CL was used as a quantitative index of the changes in blood flow within the luteal tissue. Blood flow within the midcycle CL initially increased (P < 0.05) at 0.5–2 h, decreased at 4 h to the same levels observed at 0 h, and then further decreased to a lower level from 8 h (P < 0.05) to 48 h (P < 0.001). Plasma P concentrations decreased (P < 0.05) from 4.7 ± 0.5 ng/ml (0 h) to 0.6 ± 0.2 ng/ml (24 h). The TAMXV and CL volume decreased at 8 h (P < 0.05) and further decreased (P < 0.001) from 12 to 24 h after PG injection, indicating structural luteolysis. These changes were not detected in the early CL, in which luteolysis did not occur. In the early CL, the blood flow gradually increased in parallel with the CL volume, plasma P concentration, and TAMXV from Day 4 to Day 6. The present results indicate that PGF2α induces an acute blood flow increase followed by a decrease in the midcycle CL but not in the early CL. This transitory increase may trigger the luteolytic cascade. The lack of intraluteal vascular response to PG injection in the early CL appears to be directly correlated with the ability to be resistant to PG.
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