The influence of age, antral follicle count and diestrous ovulations on estrous cycle characteristics of mares

Anthony Claes, Barry A. Ball, Kirsten E. Scoggin, Janet F. Roser, Elizabeth M. Woodward, Gabriel M. Davolli, Edward L. Squires, Mats H.T. Troedsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Reproductive aging must be well understood to optimize the reproductive management of older mares and to predict their reproductive life-span. The objectives of this study were to: 1) examine age-related differences in follicular dynamics, endocrine profiles, and primordial follicle counts, 2) evaluate the influence of antral follicle count (AFC) on age-related changes in follicular parameters, and 3) determine the influence of diestrous ovulations on the estrous cycle. Young (3–8yr; n = 10), middle-aged (9–18 yr; n = 16), and old (>18 yr; n = 19) light horse mares were examined with transrectal ultrasonography to monitor follicular growth over two consecutive estrous cycles. Jugular blood samples were taken and plasma progesterone and FSH concentrations were determined by an enzyme immunoassay and radioimmunoassay, respectively. Both interovulatory intervals and follicular phases were longer and the day of follicle deviation occurred later in aged mares. Furthermore, older mares had a tendency to ovulate smaller follicles. Neither follicular growth rate, the number of ovulations nor the length of luteal phase was influenced by mare age. Interestingly, as mare age increased, mares with low AFC had longer interovulatory intervals and follicular phases than mares with medium or high AFC. In addition, the number of primordial follicles declined with an increase in mare age but varied considerably between mares of the same age. Progesterone concentrations were positively influenced by age, whereas FSH concentrations were not, despite that FSH concentrations appeared higher in aged mares during the follicular phase. Estrous cycles with a diestrous ovulation had a longer interovulatory interval as well as a longer follicular and luteal phase while day of deviation occurred later. Progesterone concentrations were significantly higher on day 14 and 16 in estrous cycles with a diestrous ovulation than without a diestrous ovulation. In conclusion, aging in mares is associated with changes in follicular parameters which in turn are closely linked to differences in antral follicle count suggesting a relationship with ovarian reserve. Therefore, determination of antral follicle counts in aged mares can provide valuable information about the reproductive aging process. Finally, diestrous ovulations have a significant influence on different estrous cycle parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-40
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Jul 15 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This experiment was supported by the Albert G. Clay Endowment of the University of Kentucky.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.


  • Age
  • Antral follicle count
  • Diestrous ovulation
  • Equine
  • Estrous cycle
  • Primordial follicle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals
  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Equine


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