Likelihood of pregnancy after embryo transfer is reduced in recipient mares with a short preceding oestrus

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    BACKGROUND: Previous surveys reported a positive association between the length of the follicular phase and subsequent fertility in embryo transfer donor and Thoroughbred mares. However, it is unclear whether a longer oestrus positively influences fertilisation and oviductal development (oocyte quality, oviductal environment), or uterine receptivity and survival of the embryo in the uterus.

    OBJECTIVES: To determine the effect of length of oestrus (characterised by duration of endometrial oedema) on likelihood of pregnancy and early embryo loss (EEL) in recipient mares after embryo transfer (ET).

    STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective clinical study.

    METHODS: A total of 350 embryos recovered from 161 donor mares were transferred into 231 recipient mares during three consecutive breeding seasons. The following variables were analysed via two binary logistic regression models to determine their effect on pregnancy and EEL: 1) year of transfer, 2) season of transfer, 3) age of the recipient mare, 4) age of the donor mare, 5) operator performing the transfer, 6) singleton or twin embryo, 7) embryo size, 8) number of transfers to a given recipient in any one season, the use of 9) d-cloprostenol and 10) hCG in the recipient mare, 11) day of ovulation of the recipient mare at ET, 12) number of corpora lutea (CLs) at ET, and 13) duration of oestrus in the recipient mare.

    RESULTS: Age of the donor mare (P = 0.01), operator (P = 0.008), number of CLs at ET (P = 0.05) and the number of days of endometrial oedema during the oestrus preceding ET to the recipient mare (P = 0.004) influenced the likelihood of pregnancy. Early embryonic loss was influenced only by the year of transfer (P = 0.014).

    MAIN LIMITATIONS: Retrospective design of the study. The involvement of several veterinary surgeons over the 3-year period could have affected data recording.

    CONCLUSIONS: The likelihood of pregnancy in recipient mares is positively correlated with the duration of endometrial oedema during the oestrus preceding ET. This suggests a role for an adequate duration of oestrogenic priming during oestrus on uterine receptivity and embryo survival.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)386-390
    JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - May 2018


    • horse
    • recipient mare
    • embryo transfer
    • endometrial oedema
    • oestrus
    • fertility


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