- The present study was designed to determine if the dose of purified ovulation-inducing factor (OIF) from llama seminal plasma required to provoke an ovulatory response is physiologically relevant in terms of the proportion present in a normal ejaculate and to test the hypothesis that corpus luteum (CL) form and function are affected by OIF in a dose-dependent manner. Female llamas were assigned randomly to five groups (n = 10 per group) and given a single i.m. dose of 500, 250, 125, or 60 μg of purified OIF (representative of the amount present in 1/25th to 1/200th of a normal ejaculate) or 1 ml of PBS (control). Ovulation and CL development were monitored by transrectal ultrasonography. Blood samples were taken to measure plasma progesterone concentrations and to determine changes in plasma concentrations of luteinizing hormone (LH). The high dose of OIF (500 μg) was associated with the highest incidence of ovulation (P < 0.05), the greatest maximum CL diameter (P < 0.05), and the largest day-to-day profiles of CL diameter (P < 0.05) and plasma progesterone concentrations (P < 0.01). A rise in plasma LH concentration was apparent in all llamas that ovulated and was most rapid and highest in the high-dose group (P < 0.01). The low dose of OIF (60 μg) was minimally effective for induction of ovulation and the least luteotrophic, as evidenced by the smallest maximum CL diameter and the smallest day-to-day profiles for CL diameter and plasma concentrations of progesterone and LH. Responses were intermediate for the middle-dose groups (125 and 250 μg). We conclude that OIF from llama seminal plasma has a dose-dependent effect on ovulation rate and CL form and function in llamas and that the biological effect of OIF is evident at physiologically relevant doses (i.e., as little as 1/100th of that present in an ejaculate).
- Ovulation in mammals involves pulsatile release of GnRH from the hypothalamus into the hypophyseal portal system with subsequent release of LH from the anterior pituitary into systemic circulation. Elevated circulating concentrations of LH induce a cascade of events within the mature follicle, culminating in follicle rupture and evacuation. The broad classification of species as either spontaneous or induced ovulators is based on the type of stimulus responsible for eliciting GnRH release from the hypothalamus. In spontaneously ovulating species (e.g., human, sheep, cattle, horse, pigs), release of GnRH from the hypothalamus is triggered when, in the absence of progesterone, systemic estradiol concentrations exceed a threshold. In induced ovulators (e.g., rabbits, ferrets, cats, camelids), release of GnRH is contingent upon copulatory stimuli; hence, ovulation is not a regular cyclic event. Since a classic 1970 Peruvian study, dogma has maintained that physical stimulation of the genitalia during copulation is the primary trigger for inducing ovulation in alpacas and llamas. Exciting results of recent studies, however, provide direct evidence for the existence of an ovulation-inducing factor (OIF) in semen, and compel us to re-examine the mechanism of ovulation in both induced and spontaneous ovulators. Ovulation-inducing factor in seminal plasma is a potent stimulant of LH secretion, ovulation and luteal gland development, and acts via a systemic rather than a local route. OIF is a protein molecule that is resistant to heat and enzymatic digestion with proteinase K. It has a molecular mass of 14 kDa, and may be part of a larger protein complex or pro-hormone. The effect of OIF is dose-related and evident at physiologically relevant doses (i.e., as little as 1/100th that present in the ejaculate), and is mediated, in whole or in part, at the level of the hypothalamus in vivo. The factor exists in the seminal plasma of every species in which it has been examined thus far, including Bactrian camels, alpacas, llamas, cattle, horses, pigs, and koalas. Seminal plasma OIF does not appear to be a phylogenetic vestige in spontaneous ovulators since it (1) induced ovulation in pre-pubertal mice, (2) altered ovarian follicular wave dynamics in cows, and (3) elicited LH release in vitro from primary pituitary cell cultures of rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, llamas and cows.
- We have recently reported the presence of an ovulation-inducing factor (OIF) in the seminal plasma of llamas and alpacas—species characterized as induced ovulators. The study was designed to test the hypothesis that the seminal plasma of bulls will induce ovulation in llamas, and to compare the ovulation-inducing effect of seminal plasma of conspecific versus hetero-specific males. The seminal plasma of alpacas, a closely related induced ovulator (Lama pacos), and cattle, a distantly related ruminant species (Bos taurus) considered to be spontaneous ovulators, were compared with that of the llama (Lama glama). Ovulation and maximum corpus luteum diameter were compared by ultrasonography among female llamas (n = 19 per group) treated intramuscularly with 2 mL of phosphate buffered saline (PBS, negative control) and those treated with 2 mL of seminal plasma of bulls, alpacas, or llamas (conspecific control). The diameter of the preovulatory follicle did not differ among groups at the time of treatment. Bull seminal plasma induced ovulations in 26% (5/19) of llamas compared to 0% (0/19) in PBS group (P
- Camelids are induced (reflex) ovulators. We have recently documented the presence of an ovulation-inducing factor (OIF) in the seminal plasma of alpacas and llamas. The objective was to test the hypothesis that OIF exerts its effect via a systemic rather than a local route and that endometrial curettage will enhance the ovulatory response to intrauterine deposition of seminal plasma in alpacas.