Seventeen nonlactating Holstein cows were superovulated in a Latin-square designed experiment to determine the effects of increased propylene glycol (PROP) and luteinizing hormone (LH) during antral follicle development on ovarian function, fertilization, and early embryo quality. PROP was orally drenched every 4 h for 7 days to induce hyperinsulinemia and associated metabolic changes. LH concentrations were altered by increasing LH (3-fold) during last 2 days of superovulation. Treatment groups were as follows: (1) control—oral drenching with water plus low-LH preparation; (2) high LH(HLH)—water plus HLH preparation; (3) PROP—drenching with PROP plus low LH; (4) PROP/HLH—PROP plus HLH. PROP increased glucose (P < 0.05) and insulin (P < 0.02) concentrations at all time points analyzed. Neither PROP nor LH affected numbers of follicles > 9 mm at time of gonadotropin-releasing hormone-induced LH surge, although percentage of these follicles that ovulated was decreased by both PROP (P = 0.002) and LH (P = 0.048). In addition, PROP tended (P = 0.056) to decrease total number of ovulations. PROP reduced (P = 0.028) fertilization rate, while LH tended (P = 0.092) to increase fertilization rate. There was no effect of either PROP or LH on any measure of embryo quality including percentage of embryos that were degenerate, quality 1, or quality 1 and 2 of total structures collected or fertilized structures. These results indicate that acute elevation in insulin during the preovulatory follicular wave can decrease percentage of large follicles that ovulate, particularly when combined with increased LH, and reduce fertilization of ovulated oocytes.
High circulating insulin, due to treatment with propylene glycol every 4 h during final week before ovulation, reduced risk of ovulation of large follicles, reduced fertilization of ovulated oocytes, but had no effect on later embryo development.