Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica (Mar 2001)

15-Ketodihydro-PGF<sub>2α</sub>, Progesterone and Cortisol Profiles in Heifers after Induction of Parturition by Injection of Dexamethasone

  • Parvizi N,
  • Gustafsson H,
  • Kindahl H,
  • Kask K,
  • Königsson K

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 42, no. 1
pp. 151 – 159


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In order to study rapid changes in 15-ketodihydro-PGF2α, cortisol and progesterone in the period preceding parturition in cattle, pre-term parturition was induced in 4 late pregnant heifers. Parturitions were induced by 2 intramuscular injections of 20 mg dexamethasone with a 24-h interval. The first injection was made on days 254, 258, 264 and 265 in gestation, respectively. Twenty-four h before the first injection an intravenous polyurethane cannula was inserted. Blood samples were collected at least every hour until 12 h after parturition and during the second stage of labour at least 6 times per hour. Plasma was analysed for 15-ketodihydro-PGF2α and progesterone by radioimmunoassays, and for cortisol by an ELISA. The average time from injection to parturition was 7.7 (6.6–8.9) days (mean (range)). Two of the heifers had retained foetal membranes (RFM). At the start of the experiment the levels of PGF2α metabolite were low (10000 pmol/L) were reached at the time of delivery. No pulsatile release was seen. Immediately after foetal expulsion the PG-metabolite levels decreased rapidly in all animals. In the 2 animals with RFM, however, this decline ceased within a few h. The PG-metabolite levels in these animals then started to increase and reached levels as high as during parturition. Luteolysis occurred between 1.6 and 0.4 days before parturition in all animals. The cortisol profile showed a distinct peak at the time of parturition in the RFM heifers. This peak was absent in the non-RFM heifers. This study shows that the PGF2α release at prepartal luteolysis and parturition is not pulsatile in cattle and that cortisol profiles in heifers with retained foetal membranes might differ from the profiles in non-RFM heifers at the time of parturition.