Postpartum dairy cows (n=35) were used to determine the effects of feeding propylene glycol (PG) on metabolic variables related to ovarian function and on oocyte developmental competence. Starting on Day 7 postpartum, each animal received an oral dose (500 ml) of either PG or water once daily. Blood samples were collected on Days 5, 15, 25 and 35 pp to measure insulin, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs), beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) and glucose concentrations. Oocytes were recovered by ultrasound guided follicular aspiration starting on approximately Day 30 postpartum and submitted to in vitro fertilization. Ovarian follicular activity was examined daily by ultrasonography from Day 7 until ovulation or Days 35-40 postpartum. Animals receiving PG had elevated insulin concentrations over the subsequent 90 min following dosing (P<0.05) compared to control animals. Glucose concentrations followed a similar pattern. Irrespective of treatment, concentrations of NEFA declined significantly from Days 15 to 35 postpartum. Administration of PG resulted in a decrease in NEFA (P<0.001) and BHB (P<0.001) over the subsequent 90 min compared to control animals. Treatment with PG had no effect on follicular dynamics, mean days to emergence of the first cohort of follicles postpartum, or days to dominance and duration of dominance for any follicular wave recorded postpartum. There was also no difference in mean days to first ovulation or in size of the preovulatory follicle between treatments. Oocyte quality as measured by blastocyst development after IVF was not affected by treatment. These results suggest that administration of PG has the ability to positively alter the systemic concentrations of a number of metabolic variables which have been related to fertility. However, we did not observe an effect of PG treatment on follicular dynamics or the length of the postpartum interval. An effect on oocyte developmental competence remains to be proven.
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