This study investigated the influence of progestin priming and ovarian quiescence on response to exogenous gonadotropin stimulation in the cat. Because a subpopulation of cats routinely ovulated spontaneously, there also was the opportunity to examine the ovary's reaction to the added impact of endogenously secreted progestagen. Queens were given 1) equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) plus human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) only (control; n = 9 cats), 2) GnRH antagonist (antide) injections followed by eCG and hCG (n = 9), and 3) a progestin implant (levonorgestrel) followed by eCG and hCG (n = 9). Laparoscopy was used to assess ovarian activity and aspirate follicular oocytes that were graded on the basis of morphology. In five cats per treatment, half of the high-quality oocytes were assessed for glucose, pyruvate, and lactate metabolism as well as nuclear maturation. Remaining oocytes were inseminated in vitro, cultured, and examined at 72 h after insemination for cleavage. In the remaining four cats per treatment, all oocytes were inseminated in vitro and assessed at 72, 120, and 168 h after insemination for embryo developmental stage. Cats pretreated with progestin had more follicles and produced more embryos per donor (including at the combined morula/blastocyst stage) than controls or females treated with GnRH antagonist (P < 0.05). There were no differences among groups (P > 0.05) in oocyte carbohydrate metabolism, nuclear maturation metrics, or fertilization success, although there was a tendency toward improvements in all three (P < 0.2) in progestin-treated females. Interestingly, cats that spontaneously ovulated within 60 days of treatment onset also produced more embryos per cat than induced-ovulation counterparts (P < 0.05). Results indicate that prior exposure to exogenous progestin (via implant) or endogenous progestagen (via spontaneous ovulation) improves ovarian responsiveness to gonadotropins in the cat through a mechanism that is independent of the induction of ovarian quiescence.
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Vol. 83 • No. 4