Last Modified: Friday, November 16, 2012 6:39 PM
McNeese State University agricultural sciences faculty and graduate students have discovered a way to maintain pregnancy in sows — research that could benefit human reproductive medicine.
Researchers conducted two experiments centered on regressing corpora lutea — structures that secrete the hormone progesterone and promote pregnancy — in 22 sows from 2010 to 2011.
In the first experiment a synthetic progesterone was administered to pigs orally to see if pregnancy was possible without functional corpora lutea, or CLs. The second tried determining if new CLs could be induced in pregnant sows given PGF2, a drug that causes regression in the structures.
“Pregnant women need one CL, or the pregnancy will result in an abortion,” said C. Edward Ferguson, associate professor of animal sciences and one of the researchers at McNeese. “With the pregnant pigs we were looking to create new CLs, causing them to ovulate, extending the pregnancy and resulting in a healthy birth.”
According to Chip LeMieux, department head and a researcher on the project, the sows that were given the synthetic progesterone, called altrenogest, were able to carry out a full-term pregnancy even in the absence of CLs.
“This may be a way females who have had early-term pregnancies can extend gestation,” he said. “What we would want to do is continue this study and incorporate some kind of incremental doses.”
Even though no piglets were born in the second experiment the researchers were able to maintain pregnancies with induced CLs. With this new information OB/GYNs could give women who have had past complications with pregnancies a better medicine for a healthy birth.
“Women who have had a pattern of early miscarriages early on due to luteal dysfunction could be given CL-increasing supplementary progesterone,” said Ferguson.
“This would be a more natural form of treatment because the ovaries would be creating progesterone, and there would be a possibility of less or no side effects that many fertility medications have, making it more beneficial health-wise.”