Pregnancy associated glycoproteins (PAGs) and pregnancy loss in high vs sub fertility heifers.
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Reproductive inefficiency and infertility are major financial burdens to domestic livestock. Variables associated with these reproductive losses during early gestation include contributions from the oocyte, uterus, sperm, embryo and placenta. Bovine pregnancy associated glycoproteins (PAG) are produced by the binucleate cells of the ruminant placenta and can be used to diagnose pregnancy. Increased circulating concentrations of PAG early in gestation have been correlated with pregnancy success and decreased concentrations are predictive of impending embryonic mortality in both beef and dairy cattle. The objectives of the current study were to determine whether: 1) heifer fertility status is associated with circulating concentrations of PAG and pregnancy loss; and 2) PAG concentrations within the same animal are repeatable across multiple pregnancies. We hypothesized maternal PAG concentrations would be increased in high fertility compared to subfertile heifers but not repeatable across subsequent pregnancies in the same heifer. Serial embryo transfer (ET; n=4 rounds) was used to classify predominately Angus heifers (n=92) as highly fertile (HF=30; 100% pregnancy success) or subfertile (SF=62; average=33%; range=25-75% pregnancy success) based on day 28 ultrasound diagnosis. Blood samples were collected at both day 28 and 44 for quantification of circulating PAG concentrations by an in house PAG ELISA with antibodies raised against early secreted PAGs. Pregnancy was terminated at day 44 of gestation and heifers were allowed 30 days recovery before synchronization for the next ET. Only heifers that were diagnosed pregnant by ultrasound were used in this study (HF: n=30, SF: n=62). Serum concentrations of PAGs were not different between HF (5.900.27ng/mL) and SF (5.560.31ng/mL; P=0.16) heifers at day 28 of gestation nor was there a difference at day 44 of gestation (P=0.32). Subfertile heifers had increased pregnancy loss between days 28 and 44 of gestation. Based on odds ratio analysis, SF heifers had a 2.41 times chance to undergo pregnancy loss between day 28-44 compared to HF heifers (P<0.05). There was no correlation (P>0.05) in maternal circulating concentrations of PAG between pregnancies on day 28 or 44 of gestation in samples obtained from HF heifers. In summary, circulating concentrations of PAG are not different between HF and SF heifers; however, HF classified heifers have decreased pregnancy loss between days 28 and 44 of gestation.