Assessment of anti-Müllerian hormone in mares‘ transitional period and in relation to fertility in elderly mares
Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) has been linked to reproductive tract abnormalities in mares and stallions. This study aimed at evaluating AMH as a biomarker for two reproductive conditions in mares. In the first part of this study, plasma AMH was evaluated as an early indicator of the onset of cyclicity in mares in the transitional period from the anovulatory phase during winter anoestrus to the cyclic phase during the breeding season. Ten mares between 8 and 17 years old were included in the experiment which lasted from mid-February until the end of April. Ovarian activity was monitored with ultrasonography three times per week, the detection of a corpus haemorrhagicum/luteum was documented and antral follicle counts (AFC) were recorded. Blood samples were collected weekly by jugular venipuncture during the whole study period to compare AMH concentrations before and after the first ovulation of the year. The second objective was to evaluate if plasma AMH concentrations in middle-aged mares are linked to fertility and could serve as a prognostic marker in that age group. A total of 41 privately-owned clinically sound mares aged between 12 and 21 years of various breeds were inseminated with fresh or frozen semen. Mares were scanned between day 14 and 20 and the "early pregnancy rate" included only positive pregnancy examinations after the first observed cycle in the season of each mare. Potential associations between the early pregnancy rate in the first cycle and the explanatory factors AMH concentrations, age, status of the mare, stud, development of post-breeding endometritis, number of inseminations and semen type were analysed using logistic regression models. In the first part of the study, correlation between AMH and AFC for the whole study period (P = 0.0002, ρ = 0.55) as well as prior to (P = 0.008, ρ = 0.58) and after the first ovulation (P = 0.0007, ρ = 0.69) were observed. However, AMH concentrations before and after the first ovulation of the year were not statistically different. The second part of the study revealed no association between early pregnancy rate and AMH concentrations or any of the other mentioned factors. In conclusion, this study showed no evidence of a difference between AMH concentrations before and after the first ovulation of the year thus not supporting the use of AMH as a biomarker to predict the onset of cyclicity in mares. We could furthermore not show a relationship between plasma AMH concentrations and early pregnancy rates in this cohort of animals.