Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Transrectal three-dimensional fetal volumetry in early pregnant mares : relationships between maternal factors and equine fetal volume measurements

The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of maternal, hormonal, and fetal factors on early fetal volume (FV) measurements in mares obtained by three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound. Furthermore, postpartum parameters were explored in regard to their association with early FV. For this purpose, 149 German warmblood mares that were artificially inseminated and confirmed to be pregnant between days 14-16 of gestation, were examined transrectally at day 45 ± 1 of gestation with the portable 3D ultrasound device Voluson® i (GE, Zipf, Austria). FV was calculated by using the extension software Virtual Organ Computer-aided AnaLysis (VOCAL™). Two different mixed linear models were used to analyze associations between the investigated maternal and fetal factors and the FV. Explanatory variables investigated in the first model were: maternal age, parity, maternal weight, and body condition score, type of pregnancy (recipient or biological mother), barren status (lactating or non-lactating), fetal sex, progesterone (P4) and equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) concentrations; and in the second model outcome variables such as gestational length, birth weight, placental weight, fetal sex, and abortion were included in the analysis. The final models revealed a significant relation between FV and eCG (b = 0.011, P = 0.030), as well as with P4 (b = -0.053, P = 0.016), but interestingly P4 was negatively related to FV. Fetal sex showed the most prominent effect on FV (b = -0.256, P = 0.039), with female fetuses being smaller than male fetuses. In the second model none of the investigated parameters were related to early FV except for fetal sex (b = -0.328, P = 0.047), again with female fetuses being smaller. In summary, it was found that FV is related with eCG, P4 and fetal sex, but was no suitable predicting factor for the investigated outcome parameters. Furthermore, the findings suggest that sex specific growth differences exist already in early gestation. The detailed biological mechanism by which P4 and eCG affect fetal size has to be investigated in prospective studies.


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