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Stressors activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, reducing fertility by interfering with the mechanisms that regulate the timing of events within the follicular phase of the estrous cycle. In the HPA axis, melanocortin 2 receptor (MC2R) mediates responses to adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in concert with melanocortin receptor accessory protein 2 (MRAP2). The aims of the present study were: (1) to evaluate the effects of ACTH administered in cows in the preovulatory period on the expression of the MC2R/MRAP2 complex in the dominant follicle; and (2) to analyze the involvement of Extracellular signal Regulated Kinase 1 (ERK1) signaling in the activation of MC2R and the expression of key enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of glucocorticoids (GCs) in the dominant follicle. To this end, 100 IU ACTH was administered to Holstein cows from a local dairy farm during pro-estrus every 12 h for four days until ovariectomy, which was performed before ovulation. Protein immunostaining of MC2R was higher in the dominant follicles of ACTH-treated cows (p < 0.05). Also, Western blot analysis showed higher activation of the ERK1 signaling pathway in ACTH-treated cows (p < 0.05). Finally, immunohistochemistry performed in the dominant follicles of ACTH-treated cows detected higher expression of CYP17A1 and CYP21A2 (p < 0.05). These results suggest that the bovine ovary is able to respond locally to ACTH as a consequence of stress altering the expression of relevant steroidogenic enzymes. The results also confirm that the complete GC biosynthesis pathway is present in bovine dominant follicle and therefore GCs could be produced locally. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


L Etchevers, E M Belotti, P U Díaz, F M Rodríguez, F Rey, N R Salvetti, H H Ortega, A N Amweg. MC2R/MRAP2 activation could affect bovine ovarian steroidogenesis potential after ACTH treatment. Theriogenology. 2021 Oct 15;174:102-113

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PMID: 34425302

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