Characteristics of developing prolonged dominant follicles in cattle

P. J. Bridges, J. E. Fortune

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46 Scopus citations


In cattle, sub-luteal circulating progesterone induces an increase in the frequency of LH pulses, prolonged growth of the dominant follicle, increased peripheral estradiol and reduced fertility. The objective of this study was to examine the earliest stages of development of prolonged dominant follicles, to gain insight into the etiology of this aberrant condition. Heifers were treated with an intravaginal progesterone-releasing device (CIDR) from Day 4-8 post-estrus and PGF was injected on Day 6 and again 12 h later (early prolonged dominant group). Follicular phase (CIDR: Day 4-6, with PGF) and luteal phase (CIDR: Day 4-8, without PGF ) groups served as controls. As expected, peripheral progesterone in heifers of the early prolonged dominant group was intermediate between luteal and follicular phase groups after luteal regression (P < 0.05). On Day 7, the frequency of LH pulses was higher in heifers of the follicular phase and early prolonged dominant groups than the luteal phase group (P < 0.05). Dominant follicles (n = 4 per group) were collected by ovariectomy on Day 8 and were similar in size among groups (P > 0.05). Estradiol and androstenedione concentrations in the follicular fluid at ovariectomy were higher in the follicular phase and early prolonged dominant groups versus the luteal phase group (P < 0.01), whereas progesterone did not differ among groups (P > 0.05). Granulosa cells and theca interna isolated from dominant follicles were incubated for 3 h with or without gonadotropins or frozen for later analysis of mRNA for steroidogenic enzymes. Luteinizing doses (128 ng/ml) of LH and FSH increased secretion of progesterone (P < 0.05) but did not affect secretion of estradiol by granulosa cells in all groups. Low (2 or 4 ng/ml) and luteinizing doses of LH increased secretion of androstenedione by theca interna to a similar extent among groups. Expression of mRNA for P450 side chain cleavage (P450SCC), 3 β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD), P450 aromatase (aromatase) and Steroidogenic Acute Regulatory (StAR) protein by granulosa cells did not differ among groups (P > 0.05). Levels of mRNA for P450SCC, 3β-HSD, 17α-hydroxylase (17α-OH) and StAR protein in theca interna were similar in the follicular phase and early prolonged dominant groups (P > 0.05), but lower in the luteal phase group (P < 0.05-0.1). In summary, the premature follicular luteinization observed in previous studies after prolonged periods of sub-luteal progesterone was absent in early prolonged dominant follicles, exposed to sub-luteal progesterone for 36 h, and their characteristics resembled those of control follicles during the follicular phase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-214
Number of pages16
JournalDomestic Animal Endocrinology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Doug Bianchi for care of animals and surgical procedures, Drs. Misung Jo and Colin MacCalman for expert advice on northern blot analyses, and Drs. Labrie, Waterman and Ivell for cDNAs. Supported by USDA Cooperative Regional Research Project NE-161.


  • Cattle
  • Ovarian follicle
  • Ovary
  • Persistent follicle
  • Prolonged dominance
  • Steroidogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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