Free Access
Reprod. Nutr. Dev.
Volume 46, Number 4, July-August 2006
Symposium: Influence of nutrition and socio-sexual context on reproduction and survival of the young in goats and sheep
Page(s) 339 - 354
Published online 07 July 2006
Reprod. Nutr. Dev. 46 (2006) 339-354
DOI: 10.1051/rnd:2006016

A review of the effects of supplementary nutrition in the ewe on the concentrations of reproductive and metabolic hormones and the mechanisms that regulate folliculogenesis and ovulation rate

Rex J. Scaramuzzia, Bruce K. Campbellb, Jeff A. Downingc, Nigel R. Kendallb, Muhammad Khalida, Minerva Muñoz-Gutiérrezd and Anongnart Somchita

a  Department of Veterinary Basic Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mimms, Hertfordshire, AL9 7TA, UK
b  Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, School of Human Development, University of Nottingham, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK
c  Department of Animal Science, University of Sydney, Camden, 2570, NSW, Australia
d  Departamento de Biología de la Reproducción, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Iztapalapa, 09340 Mexico City, Mexico

(Published online 7 July 2006)

Abstract - This paper discusses the phenomenon of nutritional flushing in ewes whereby increased nutrition stimulates folliculogenesis and ovulation rate. In addition the paper reviews recent findings on the effects of increased levels of nutrition on the blood concentrations of reproductive and metabolic hormones in the ewe and some of the intraovarian changes that take place in response to nutritional stimulation. Finally, in the paper, we propose a model of the physiological mechanism for the nutritional stimulation of folliculogenesis and we review how closely the model fits recent published and unpublished evidence examining the mechanism of flushing. Nutritional stimulation alters the blood concentrations of some metabolic hormones. By using short-term models of nutritional flushing, we have shown that as the blood concentrations of insulin and leptin increase that of growth hormone decreases while that of IGF-I appears unaffected by the nutritional flushing. Nutritional flushing also alters the blood concentrations of some reproductive hormones. Again, using the same model, we have shown that there is a transient increase in FSH and a decrease in oestradiol concentrations in the blood. The changes in oestradiol are particularly evident in the follicular phase of the oestrous cycle. In the ovary, the effect of nutrition is to stimulate folliculogenesis. These changes are associated with intra-follicular alterations in the insulin-glucose, IGF and leptin metabolic systems. The stimulation of these intra-follicular systems leads to a suppression in follicular oestradiol production. The consequence of these direct actions on the follicle is a reduced negative feedback to the hypothalamic-pituitary system and increased FSH secretion that leads to a stimulation of folliculogenesis.

Key words: insulin / leptin / IGF-I / glucose / FSH / oestradiol

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2006