Programa de Pós-Graduação em Zootecnia, Faculdade de Agronomia Eliseu Maciel, Núcleo de Pesquisa Ensino e Extensão em Pecuária (NUPEEC), Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Pelotas, RS, Brazil. Electronic address: [Email]
The use of strategies to stimulate follicular growth are important, especially for use in timed artificial insemination (TAI) protocols, aiming to increase dairy cow's fertility. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of insulin on follicular growth, steroid production and expression of genes related to follicular development. For this, cows were submitted to a progesterone (P4) and estradiol (E2) based synchronization protocol. In study 1, eleven primiparous lactating Holstein cows, received a single s.c. application of 0.25 IU/kg human insulin or no treatment (control) on D8 of the protocol. Blood samples were collected, and the dominant follicle diameter was assessed daily via transrectal ultrasonography, from D8 to D12. In study 2, eight multiparous non-pregnant and non-lactating Jersey cows, received a single s.c. application of 0.25 IU/kg human insulin, whereas cows from the control group received a single s.c. injection (1 mL) of saline solution (NaCl 0.9%). Blood samples were collected, and the dominant follicle diameter was assessed daily via transrectal ultrasonography from D6 to D9 of the protocol. Sixteen hours after insulin injection, follicular aspiration was performed. In study 1, insulin treatment decreased systemic glucose levels, but did not affect follicular growth. In study 2, the glucose decrease induced by insulin treatment was accompanied by a tendency of decreased progesterone levels in follicular fluid, along with a decrease in steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (STAR) and insulin like growth factor binding protein 2 (IGFBP2) mRNA abundance in granulosa cells. In conclusion, insulin treatment does not increase follicle growth and estradiol secretion in dairy cows, but decreases IGFBP2 and tends to increase pappalysin (PAPPA) mRNA abundance in granulosa cells, suggesting a positive effect on follicle development.