Effects of the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone on reproductive function in the ewe

D. J. Phillips, I. J. Clarke

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Glucocorticoids have been found to inhibit reproductive function in most domestic species studied but, in the ewe, preliminary reports suggest that glucocorticoids may have little or no effect. This study investigated the effects of the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone on oestrus and ovulation rate in ewes during the breeding season and gonadotropin secretion in the breeding and non-breeding seasons. In cyclic ewes, dexamethasone treatment at rates of up to 2 mg/day did not affect the natural or pregnant mare serum gonadotrophin-stimulated ovulation rate, or the timing and incidence of behavioural oestrus (P > 0.05). Dexamethasone administration (2 mg/day) had no effect on LH secretion or the plasma LH response to a 1 μg injection of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in ovariectomized ewes in the breeding and non-breeding seasons, and did not compromise the inhibition of plasma LH levels during chronic treatment with oestrogen. Similarly, dexamethasone had no effect on plasma FSH concentrations, but significantly (P < 0.05) reduced the plasma FSH response to a 1 μg GnRH injection during chronic negative treatment with oestrogen in ovariectomized ewes. Collectively, these data show that in these experiments dexamethasone did not significantly modify reproductive function in the ewe, a finding that is in contrast to that found in other domestic species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-295
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1990
Externally publishedYes

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