Effects of endotoxin infusion on circulating levels of eicosanoids, progesterone, cortisol, glucose and lactic acid, and abortion in pregnant cows

Shri N. Giri, Peter Emau, James S Cullor, G. H. Stabenfeldt, M. L. Bruss, Robert Bondurant, Bennie Osburn

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58 Scopus citations


The effects of Escherichia coli endotoxin infusions (1.0 or 2.5 μg kg-1 over 6 h) on pregnancy were investigated in cows in the first, second and third trimester of gestation. Endotoxin increased the plasma levels of prostaglandins (PGs), thromboxane B2 and cortisol, and decreased progesterone. The severity of the clinical signs and the magnitude of the increases in plasma PGs, thromboxane B2 and cortisol tended to depend on the dose of endotoxin, but were independent of the gestation period. There was hyperglycemia followed by hypoglycemia and lactic acidemia. Hyperglycemia and lactic acidemia were significant only at the high dose of endotoxin. Endotoxin infusion at both doses caused a preferential mobilization of oleic acid from adipose tissue, and also had some effects on the mobilization of palmitic and stearic acids during the post-infusion period. The cows in the first trimester of gestation were more sensitive to the abortifacient effect of endotoxin than cows in the second and third trimester of gestation. The results of this study indicate that the mechanism of endotoxin-induced abortion in cows initially involves a prolonged release of PGF and its subsequent stimulant effect on uterine smooth muscle contraction and luteolytic effect leading to a gradual decline in the plasma levels of progesterone. It was concluded that pregnancy terminates in the absence of an adequate level of progesterone, especially during the first trimester of gestation, when progesterone of extraluteal origin is not yet available, coupled with the PGF-induced propulsive contraction of the uterus. In addition, the metabolic and circulatory failures in severe cases of endotoxemia, especially at the high dose of endotoxin, resulting either directly or indirectly via the release of various autacoids, catecholamines and cortisol, may also contribute to the termination of pregnancy at any stage of gestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-231
Number of pages21
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1990


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)

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