Progesterone Test Makes Reproductive Management Less of a Nightmare

New research has revealed that a commercially available progesterone test is reliable and practical, and it can help veterinarians manage breeding mares more efficiently.

According to researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Montreal in Canada, the success of equine reproductive management relies on a veterinarian's ability to accurately determine the stage of a mare's estrous cycle.

"Current means of evaluating a mare's cycle include transrectal palpation, ultrasonography, and vaginoscopy," said Réjean Lefebvre, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, a co-author on this study. "Since these techniques are not always conclusive, accurately and rapidly measuring progesterone levels can provide valuable information."

Conventional progesterone tests, however, can be problematic because they are time-consuming and require the use of radioactive materials. Therefore, Lefebvre and colleagues evaluated the clinical utility of a semiquantitive, commercially available ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) progesterone test.

"This progesterone test requires only a single drop of blood, is rapid, and the amount of progesterone in the blood sample can be readily estimated based on the degree of color change," explained Lefebvre.

Lefebvre and colleagues concluded that the semiquantitative ELISA progesterone test can be reliably and economically employed by veterinarians managing mares with irregular estrous cycles, silent estrus, to supplement rectal and ultrasound findings, in high-risk pregnancies, during embryo transfer, and in other situations to maximize reproductive efficiency.

This project was funded by the University of Montreal. The tests were provided by Biovet Inc., located in Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec, Canada.

The study, "Accuracy of a rapid enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to measure progesterone in mares," was published in the August 2007 edition of the Canadian Veterinary Journal.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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