Anti-Müllerian hormone profiling in prepubertal horses and its relationship with gonadal function

Dragos Scarlet, Manuela Wulf, Juliane Kuhl, Martin Köhne, Natascha Ille, Alan J Conley, Christine Aurich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) has gained increasing interest as a biomarker for assessment of gonadal activity. The ability to predict the ovarian follicular reserve of prepubertal female horses (fillies) or to identify stallions with testicular pathologies already during their prepubertal life has not been analyzed so far. Both would help to select fertile horses and reduce costs associated with keeping animals. The objectives of the present study were to (1) assess AMH, LH, FSH, progesterone (females) and testosterone (males) dynamics in prepubertal horses from birth onwards and (2) determine whether AMH concentrations detected in plasma of prepubertal female and male horses are correlated with postpubertal gonadal development. Warmblood foals (n = 30, 14 females, 10 normal males and 6 males with abnormal testicular development) born between February and May of two consecutive years (n = 28 in the first year and n = 2 the next year), were included in the study. Information on gestational length, parity of the dam and placental weight was collected for all foals. Blood samples for hormone analysis were collected from birth onwards every four weeks up to the age of one year. At two years, blood samples were collected on the day when antral follicle count (AFC) and total testicular volume (TTV) were assessed. AMH was detectable in the plasma of all animals from birth onwards and its concentration was significantly higher (P <.001) in males than in females, regardless of testicular development. In males, AMH and testosterone concentration were similar for all animals during the first year of life, regardless of testicular development. At two years, AMH concentration was higher (P <.05) in males with abnormal testicular development than in those with normal testes. In females, AMH concentration at two years was correlated with AMH concentration at birth (P <.05) and with AFC (P <.001). At birth, LH concentration was lower (P <.05) in stallions with abnormal testes (0.3 ± 0.2 ng/ml) than in controls (0.6 ± 0.2 ng/ml). A high negative correlation between AMH concentration and gestation length was observed in males during the first eight weeks of life (P <.01, r = −0.64 to −0.71). Elevated progesterone concentrations over 1 ng/ml were observed in several females starting with 20 weeks of age. This was paralleled by an increase in AMH concentration and was preceded by FSH and LH increases. In conclusion, AMH determination can be reliably used from two years onwards to identify stallions with abnormal testicular development, but it is inconclusive before puberty. In female horses, determination of AMH concentration at a prepubertal age allows for prediction of AMH and AFC after puberty. We suggest that premature luteinisation occurs before the onset of puberty in female horses and that LH secretion in the perinatal period is involved in testicular development and descent in the horse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-77
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • AMH
  • Fertility
  • Horse
  • Puberty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals
  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Equine


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