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Research article2006Peer reviewed

Impact of ACTH administration on the oviductal sperm reservoir in sows: The local endocrine environment and distribution of spermatozoa

Brandt, Y; Lang, A; Madej, A; Rodriguez-Martinez, H; Einarsson, S


The objective of the study was to investigate if short-term stress in sows (simulated by injections of synthetic adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)) during standing oestrus had a negative effect on the local environment in the utero-tubal junction (UTJ) and isthmus and the distribution of spermatozoa in these segments. Fourteen sows were monitored for ovulation using ultrasonography in two consecutive oestruses. The sows were fitted with jugular catheters and, from onset of the second oestrus, blood samples were collected every second hour. In the 2nd oestrus, seven sows were given ACTH every second hour, from the onset of standing oestrus until the sow ovulated (ACTH-group), whereas the other seven sows remained as controls (C-group) and were given NaCl solution. The sows were artificially inseminated 16-18 h before expected ovulation. Six hours after ovulation the sows were anaesthetised, and blood samples were repeatedly taken from veins draining the uterus and the UTJ-isthmus, respectively. This oviduct was thereafter removed and divided in four adjacent sections consisting of: (i) the UTJ, (ii) the first, and (iii) the second isthmus segment prior to (iv), the ampullary-isthmic junction (AIJ) and the ampulla. The three first-mentioned segments were flushed to retrieve spermatozoa, whereas the last one was flushed to collect oocytes/ova. The number of spermatozoa attached to the zona pellucida was counted. The concentrations of cortisol in jugular blood of the ACTH-group sows during the time of ACTH-injections were significantly higher than of the C-group sows (p < 0.05), as were the levels of progesterone (p < 0.001). Progesterone and cortisol concentrations measured in the blood samples draining the UTJ-isthmic region 6 h after ovulation did not significantly differ between the groups, but the C-group displayed significantly higher concentrations of progesterone in the UTJ-isthmic region compared with the levels measured in parallel samples taken of jugular blood (P < 0.01). The C-group, but not the ACTH-group, also displayed a significant elevation in progesterone concentration 6 h after ovulation compared with the basal levels before ovulation (p < 0.01). Numbers of retrieved spermatozoa were not significantly different between the C-group and the ACTH-group. However, there was a tendency for a larger number of spermatozoa among sows in the ACTH-group, especially in the isthmic segment adjacent to the AIJ. In conclusion, simulated stress induced by injections of ACTH during standing oestrus results in elevated concentrations of progesterone before ovulation and may interfere with the rise of progesterone after ovulation. However, ACTH-injections appeared to augment transport of spermatozoa through the female genital tract of pigs. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved


pig-oviduct; ACTH; stress; sperm reservoir; sperm transport; progesterone

Published in

Animal Reproduction Science
2006, Volume: 92, number: 1-2, pages: 107-122