Follicle populations and gene expression profiles of Nelore and Angus heifers with low and high ovarian follicle counts

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The number of antral follicles counted (AFC) by ultrasound is associated with fertility in cattle. Cows with higher follicle count (HFC) have higher performance in reproductive-assisted technologies than cows with lower follicle count (LFC). In this study, we aimed to define the preantral follicle count by histology and to identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs) using a microarray in Nelore and Angus heifers with HFC and LFC. The ovaries of each animal were scanned with an ultrasound device 12 to 24 hr after estrus. The groups were formed based on the average number of total follicles (≥3 mm) counted in each breed consistently ± the standard deviation. For the histological analysis, preantral follicles were counted and classified under a stereo microscope, and follicle density was determined. Microarray analysis was performed on pools of three follicles dissected from the ovaries of 15 Nelore (6 HFC and 9 LFC) and 17 Angus heifers (9 HFC and 8 LFC). Angus heifers have increased total and primordial follicle density. Nelore heifers have increased antral follicle count. Different patterns of gene expression regulate follicle recruitment and development in Angus and Nelore heifers and may be associated with the different follicle densities observed in Angus versus Nelore heifers. Furthermore, HFC heifers presented increased expression of genes associated with cellular development and metabolism.




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Molecular Reproduction and Development, v. 86, n. 2, p. 197-208, 2019.

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