The temporal relationships in the changes in concentrations of follicular fluid factors during follicle selection were characterized in mares. All follicles ≥5 mm were ablated 10 days after ovulation, followed by follicular fluid collection from the three largest follicles (F1, F2, and F3) when F1 of the new wave reached a diameter of 8.0–11.9, 12.0–15.9, 16.0–19.9, 20.0–23.9, 24.0–27.9, or 28.0–31.9 mm (n = 4–8 mares/range). Diameter deviation between F1 and F2 began during the 20.0- to 23.9-mm range, as indicated by a greater difference in diameter between the two follicles at the 24.0- to 27.9-mm range than at the 20.0- to 23.9-mm range. Androstenedione concentrations increased in F1, F2, and F3 between the 16.0- to 19.9- and 20.0- to 23.9-mm ranges. In contrast, estradiol, free insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1, activin-A, and inhibin-A concentrations increased only in F1 beginning at the 16.0- to 19.9-mm range. As a result, the concentrations of all four factors were higher in F1 than in F2 and F3 at all the later ranges, including the 20.0- to 23.9-mm range (beginning of diameter deviation). Concentrations of progesterone differentially increased in F1, concentrations of androstenedione and IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-2 increased only in F2 and F3, and concentrations of inhibin-B differentially decreased in F2 and F3 simultaneous with the beginning of deviation. Concentrations of FSH, LH, pro-αC inhibin, and total inhibin did not change differentially among follicles. Results indicated that, on a temporal basis, estradiol, free IGF-1, activin-A, and inhibin-A may have played a role in the initiation of follicle deviation. In addition, these four factors as well as progesterone, androstenedione, IGFBP-2, and inhibin-B may have been involved in the subsequent differential development of the follicles.
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