The objectives of the current study were to evaluate the effects of supplemental progesterone after artificial insemination (AI) on expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISG) in blood leukocytes and fertility in lactating dairy cows. Weekly cohorts of Holstein cows were blocked by parity (575 primiparous and 923 multiparous) and method of insemination (timed AI or AI on estrus) and allocated randomly within each block to untreated controls, a controlled internal drug release (CIDR) containing 1.38. g of progesterone from d 4 to 18 after AI (CIDR4), or a CIDR on d 4 and another on d 7 after AI and both removed on d 18 (CIDR4+7). Blood was sampled to quantify progesterone concentrations in plasma and mRNA expression in leukocytes for the ubiquitin-like IFN-stimulated gene 15-kDa protein (ISG15) and receptor transporter protein-4 (RTP4) genes. Pregnancy was diagnosed on d 34 ± 3 and 62 ± 3 after AI. Treatment increased progesterone concentrations between d 5 and 18 after AI in a dose-dependent manner (control = 3.42, CIDR4 = 4.97, and CIDR4+7 = 5.46. ng/mL). Cows supplemented with progesterone tended to have increased luteolysis by d 19 after AI (control = 17.2; CIDR4 = 29.1; CIDR4+7 = 30.2%), which resulted in a shorter AI interval for those reinseminated after study d 18. Pregnancy upregulated expression of ISG in leukocytes on d 19 of gestation, but supplementing progesterone did not increase mRNA abundance for ISG15 and RTP4 on d 16 after insemination and tended to reduce mRNA expression on d 19 after AI. For RTP4 on d 19, the negative effect of supplemental progesterone was observed only in the nonpregnant cows. No overall effect of treatment was observed on pregnancy per AI on d 62 after insemination and averaged 28.6, 32.7, and 29.5% for control, CIDR4, and CIDR4+7, respectively. Interestingly, an interaction between level of supplemental progesterone and method of AI was observed for pregnancy per AI. For cows receiving exogenous progesterone, the lower supplementation with CIDR4 increased pregnancy per AI on d 62 in cows inseminated following timed AI (CIDR4 = 39.2; CIDR4+7 = 27.5%); in those inseminated following detection of estrus, however, the use of a second insert on d 7 resulted in greater pregnancy per AI (CIDR4 = 26.9; CIDR4+7 = 31.5%). Pregnancy loss did not differ among treatments. Supplemental progesterone post-AI using a single intravaginal insert on d 4 was beneficial to pregnancy in cows inseminated following timed AI, but incremental progesterone with a second insert on d 7 did not improve fertility of dairy cows.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank the owner and staff of Alliance Dairies (Trenton, FL) for the use of their cows and facilities. Our appreciation is extended to Nilo Francisco of Alliance Dairies for assistance during the study, and to John Chenault of Zoetis (Madison, NJ) for providing the CIDR inserts. The first author (P. L. J. Monteiro, Jr.) was supported by a scholarship from the São Paulo Research Foundation (Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil).
- Dairy cow
- Interferon-stimulated gene