Evaluating the use of luteal color Doppler ultrasonography and pregnancy-associated glycoproteins to diagnose pregnancy and predict pregnancy loss in Bos taurus beef replacement heifers.
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The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of corpus luteum (CL) color Doppler (CD) ultrasonography and pregnancy-associated glycoproteins (PAG) for early pregnancy diagnosis and examine their ability to predict late embryonic/early fetal mortality (LEM) in Bos taurus beef replacement heifers. Beef heifers (n = 178) were exposed to a 7-d CO-Synch + CIDR protocol followed by fixed-time artificial insemination (day 0). On days 20 and 22, B-mode and CD ultrasonography were performed to evaluate CL morphometries and blood perfusion, respectively. Heifers were considered nonpregnant when CL area was <2 cm2 or estimated luteal blood perfusion was 30% of the total luteal area. Blood samples were collected on days 25 and 29 to estimate circulating concentrations of PAG. Conventional ultrasonography on days 29 and 94 was utilized to determine pregnancy status and considered the gold standard method for pregnancy diagnosis. Pregnant heifers had greater (P < 0.01) CL diameter, area, volume, and blood perfusion when compared with nonpregnant heifers on days 20 and 22. Accuracy of CD on days 20 and 22, and PAG on days 25 and 29 were 91%, 94%, 96%, and 98%, respectively. No false-negative results were observed for CD on both days 20 and 22 (negative predicted value = 100%) and false-positive results represented 8% and 6% of the diagnoses. Heifers that experienced LEM between days 29 and 94 of gestation had decreased luteal (P = 0.02) volume on day 20 and tended (P = 0.07) to have decreased concentrations of PAG on day 29 compared with heifers that maintained pregnancy. However, both CD and PAG failed to predict embryonic mortality. In conclusion, CD successfully detected most nonpregnant replacement heifers as early as day 20 of gestation, while resulting in no false negative diagnoses. Both CD and PAG failed to predict LEM in the present study.