2011’s Top Equine Reproduction News (AAEP 2011)

A wrap-up of some applicable studies to equine reproduction in 2011 from Dr. Patrick M. McCue.

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Equine reproduction is a popular topic for researchers to study, so it comes as no surprise that hundreds of scientific articles on a variety of reproduction-related topics are published each year. During the 2011 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Nov. 18-22 in San Antonio, Texas, some of the most clinically relevant studies on the broad topic were presented during the annual Kester News Hour. Patrick M. McCue, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, professor in the department of clinical sciences at Colorado State University, shared his thoughts on top studies at the popular session.

Ovarian tumors can cause hormonal disturbances that lead to behavioral and reproductive problems for affected mares. Often veterinarians confirm these tumors based on finding abnormal masses when rectally palpating the reproductive tract, but researchers at the University of California, Davis, studied whether blood levels of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) could also be useful in diagnosing these tumors. They found that AMH levels were low in healthy mares, and did not change throughout the estrous cycle, or with season or during pregnancy . However, mares with granulosa cell tumors (one of four ovarian tumor types) had elevated AMH levels that decreased after tumor removal. Thus, the researchers concluded, AMH level is a useful biomarker for granulosa cell tumors. The assay is not yet available for clinical use.

Almeida J, Ball BA, Conley AJ, et al. Biological and clinical significance of anti-Müllerian hormone determination in blood serum of the mare. Theriogenology 2011 (in press).

Equine viral arteritis (EVA) is a highly contagious disease that can cause fever, respiratory illness, eye inflammation, edema (swelling, especially of the limbs), weakness or sickness in foals, and abortion. The virus can be transmitted via respiratory secretions or breeding (natural cover or artificial insemination). The AAEP’s EVA vaccination guidelines for pregnant mares state, "The manufacturer does not recommend use of this vaccine in pregnant mares, especially in the last two months of pregnancy." However, Oklahoma State University researchers studied the safety of vaccinating in-foal mares; McCue summarized their findings as follows: "It appears to be safe to vaccinate healthy pregnant mares against equine arteritis virus up to three months before foaling and during the immediate postpartum period. Vaccination during the last two months of pregnancy was associated with a risk of abortion

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Written by:

Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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