Effects of implants containing the GnRH agonist deslorelin on testosterone release and semen characteristics in Shetland stallions.Anim Reprod Sci 2018; 195:230-241AR
The hypothesis in this study was continuous treatment of stallions with the GnRH agonist deslorelin inhibits reproductive functions. A 2-week pre-experimental period was followed by an 11-week deslorelin implant treatment. Stallions received 4.7 (D1, n = 7), or 18.8 mg deslorelin (D2, n = 5) or remained untreated (C, n = 5). Libido, sperm motility, membrane integrity, DNA fragmentation, estrogen receptors, basal plasma testosterone and Anti Muellerian hormone (AMH) concentrations were evaluated once weekly during the treatment period. The testosterone response to the GnRH agonist buserelin and hCG was evaluated twice. In Week 2, stallions in Group C but not Groups D1 and D2 responded to buserelin with testosterone release (P < 0.001), while in Week 9, stallions in Group C and D1 but not D2 released testosterone after buserelin administration (group P < 0.01, week P = 0.01). Stallions of all groups responded to hCG with testosterone release at both times of hCG administration (P < 0.001). The AMH concentration was similar in all groups. Deslorelin thus reduced pituitary responsiveness to GnRH but only with a large dose and this effect persisted for several weeks. Total sperm count increased transiently with the D2 treatment but not in stallions of the D1 and C groups after implant insertion (time P < 0.01, time x group P < 0.001). The percentage of ESR1-positive spermatozoa decreased transiently in Group D2 (time P < 0.01, time × group P < 0.01). There was no difference among groups at any time during the study in percentage of motile and membrane-intact spermatozoa and sperm with DNA fragmentation. In conclusion, deslorelin implants modulate pituitary function in stallions but not to an extent that affects testicular function.