Journal of animal science

Effects of adrenocorticotropic hormone and flunixin meglumine on pregnancy retention in beef cows.

PMID 21856895


Pregnancy loss in beef cattle after d 28 of gestation is variable, but it has been reported to be as great as 14% and has been related to transportation or handling stress. The primary objective of this study was to determine whether activation of the hypophyseal-adrenal axis with ACTH would mimic a stressful response and cause pregnancy loss in beef cattle. A secondary objective was to determine if a single injection of the PG synthesis inhibitor flunixin meglumine would attenuate the stress response and suppress serum PGF(2α) concentrations to prevent pregnancy loss. Forty nonlactating beef cows that were 34 ± 0.33 d pregnant were used for this study. In a 2 × 3 factorial arrangement, cows were randomly assigned to receive ACTH [0 or 0.5 IU/kg of BW, intramuscularly (i.m.)] at 0 and 2 h of the study and flunixin meglumine (0, 1.1, or 2.2 mg/kg of BW, i.m.) at 0 h. Blood samples were collected from all cows at 0 h and every 30 min for 4 h to measure serum cortisol and PGF(2α) metabolite (PGFM) concentrations. Rectal temperature was collected for each cow at 0, 120, and 240 min. Pregnancy exams were conducted 31 and 58 d after treatment by transrectal ultrasonography, and the presence of a fetal heartbeat was used as an indicator of fetal viability. Serum cortisol concentration was affected (P < 0.01) by ACTH, time, and the interaction of ACTH × time, but not by flunixin meglumine (P ≥ 0.14) or any other interactions. Cortisol concentrations increased (P < 0.01) in the serum of ACTH-treated cows immediately after ACTH treatment and remained increased (P < 0.01) throughout the 4-h sampling period. Serum PGFM concentration was not affected by ACTH (P = 0.97) or by any interactions (P > 0.35) with ACTH, but was affected (P < 0.01) by flunixin meglumine, time, and the interaction of flunixin meglumine × time. Regardless of dosage (1.1 or 2.2 mg/kg of BW), flunixin meglumine decreased (P < 0.01) serum PGFM concentrations in both ACTH-treated and control cows for the duration of the study. Although ACTH treatment induced a prolonged increase in serum cortisol concentration, none of the cows used in this study lost a pregnancy. In conclusion, the activation of the hypophyseal-adrenal axis with ACTH increased serum cortisol concentrations but did not increase serum concentrations of PGFM or cause pregnancy loss during early gestation in cows. Flunixin meglumine treatment suppressed serum PGFM concentrations in control and ACTH-treated cows.

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Flunixin meglumine, European Pharmacopoeia (EP) Reference Standard