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Effects Of Melatonin Administration To Pregnant Ewes Under Heat-Stress Conditions, In Redox Status And Reproductive Outcome

Efterpi Bouroutzika, D. Kouretas, S. Papadopoulos, A. Veskoukis, E. Theodosiadou, S. Makri, Charilaos Paliouras, M. Michailidis, M. Caroprese, I. Valasi
Published 2020 · Medicine

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Heat stress is a known promoter of reactive oxygen species generation, which may compromise pregnancy and foetal development. Melatonin is a pleiotropic molecule that regulates various processes including pregnancy. Thus, it could be used to ameliorate the redox status of pregnant heat-stressed ewes and the outcome of their pregnancy. Sixty-eight ewes participated in the study, which were allocated into two equal groups, i.e., Melatonin (M) and Control (C) group. All ewes were exposed to heat stress from D0 to D120. In both groups, after oestrus synchronization of ewes, rams were introduced to them for mating (D16). In M group, starting with sponges’ insertion (D0), melatonin implants were administered four-fold every 40 days. Pregnancy diagnosis was performed by means of ultrasonography. Daily evaluation of temperature humidity index (THI), rectal temperature, and breathing rate were performed throughout the study. Blood samples were collected repeatedly from D0 until weaning for assaying redox biomarkers. Milk yield was measured thrice during puerperium. The results showed that melatonin administration throughout pregnancy improved the redox status of heat-stressed ewes and increased the mean number and bodyweight of lambs born per ewe, as well as the milk production. Therefore, melatonin may be used as antioxidant regimen in heat-stressed ewes for improving their reproductive traits.
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