In order to determine the profile of arachidonic acid (AA) metabolites synthesized by bovine embryos during early developmental stages, embryos collected from superovulated beef cattle (days 6 through 17) were incubated with AA and its metabolites were analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography and radioimmunoassay (RIA). Embryos harvested and cultured before day 12 of the estrous cycle metabolized AA primarily to prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), whereas, those harvested on day 13 of the cycle metabolized AA to both PGE2 and PGF2α. Furthermore, embryos collected after day 15 of the cycle metabolized AA to PGI2 in addition to PGE2 and PGF2α. In view of the luteotropic properties that have been attributed to PGE2 and the vasodilatory effect of PGI2, this transitional change in prostaglandin synthesis during early stages of embryonic development may be a part of the mechanism by which the embryo exerts a luteotropic effect leading to maternal recognition of pregnancy and by which the conceptus begins preparing for subsequent implantation.
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