The effect of deslorelin acetate on the oestrous cycle of female guinea pigs

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(1)Veterinarni Medicina, 60, 2015 (3): 155–160. Original Paper. doi: 10.17221/8062-VETMED. The effect of deslorelin acetate on the oestrous cycle of female guinea pigs S. Kohutova, V. Jekl, Z. Knotek, K. Hauptman Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic ABSTRACT: Deslorelin acetate, a GnRH agonist, is commonly used to prevent folliculogenesis in several species. However, little is known of the effect of deslorelin acetate implants on the oestrous cycle of female guinea pigs. Fifteen intact healthy female guinea pigs were investigated in this study. Signs of sexual behaviour, the presence of a vaginal membrane along with plasma concentrations of oestradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4), were monitored during two consecutive oestrous cycles. At the beginning of the third oestrous cycle each guinea pig was administered an implant of the GnRH analogue, deslorelin acetate, (4.7 mg). When compared to the untreated state, deslorelin implantation was associated with altered signs of oestrus. The average time to opening of the vaginal membrane was delayed. After opening, the vaginas were found to be variably opened and closed. A significant reduction in P 4 (to less than 1.0 ng/ml) and cessation of P4 cyclical variation was observed. Plasma E2 remained high during the whole experimental period. This study shows that cessation of the oestrous cycle by the deslorelin implant might be useful in preventing pregnancy in guinea pigs. Keywords: guinea pig; deslorelin; progesterone; oestradiol; oestrous cycle List of abbreviations E2 = oestradiol, FSH = follicle-stimulating hormone, GnRH = gonadotropin-releasing hormone, gpGnRH = guinea pig gonadotropin-releasing hormone, LH = luteinising hormone, P4 = progesterone. Guinea pigs (Cavia aperea f. porcellus) are polyoestrous animals, and sows ovulate spontaneously (Sisk 1976). Guinea pigs have a mean oestrous cycle length of 17.5 ± 2.1 days (range 15–21 days) which is composed of dioestrus, when the female is sexually inactive and the vagina is closed by an epithelial membrane, followed by proestrus and oestrus. The sow is sexually receptive during proestrus and oestrus and the transition to oestrus is preceded by the opening of the vagina due to dissolution of the vaginal membrane (Stockard and Papanicolau 1917). Previously, it has been shown that there is a significant elevation of plasma progesterone (P4) coincident with the luteal phase (dioestrus) in guinea pigs (Feder et al. 1968; Challis et al. 1971; Blatchley. et al. 1976; Garis and Foreman 1984), whereas fluctuations of plasma oestradiol (E2) levels occur throughout the oestrous cycle (Chalis et al. 1971; Croix and Franchimont 1975; Garris and Foreman 1984; Westfahl and Vekasy 1988; Hutz et al. 1990). Thus, in the guinea pig, the period of sexual behaviour and receptivity can be indirectly deduced from the duration of dioestrus (when high P4 levels, low sexual activity and vaginal membranes are present) and oestrus (low P4 levels, sows are sexually active and vaginal membranes are absent). Deslorelin acetate is a long-acting synthetic GnRH agonist used for the control of sexual behaviour in various animal species (McRae et al. 1985; Munson et al. 2001; Junaidi et al. 2003; Schoemaker et al. 2008; Romagnoli et al. 2009; Fontaine et al.. Supported by the Internal Grant Agency of the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic (Grant No. 54/2010/FVL).. 155.

(2) Original Paper. Veterinarni Medicina, 60, 2015 (3): 155–160 doi: 10.17221/8062-VETMED. 2011; Novotny et al. 2012). Subcutaneous implants provide a long-term, continuous release of small amounts of GnRH. After implantation of deslorelin there is an initial, transient increase in the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH), termed ‘flare-up’. Depending on at what stage in the oestrous cycle implantation is carried out, the ‘flare-up’ can be sufficient to induce oestrus and ovulation (Gobello 2007). Continuous, long-term release of deslorelin results in the down regulation of GnRH receptors in the pituitary. This effect is manifested as insensitivity to endogenous GnRH, a consequent failure to release FSH and LH and ultimately, to a failure to induce sexual behaviour. This effect of deslorelin implantation has been harnessed to suppress sexual behaviour and to prevent pregnancy in dogs, cats and ferrets (Munson et al. 2001; Junaidi et al. 2003; Schoemaker et al. 2008; Romagnoli et al. 2009). However, there is insufficient knowledge of the effect of deslorelin in guinea pigs to allow its safe use in practice. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of deslorelin acetate implants on the oestrous cycle of intact female guinea pigs. Assessment was made before and after deslorelin implantation by monitoring parameters that differentiate stages of the oestrus cycle: the length of oestrus (signalled by disappearance of the vaginal membrane) and changes in plasma hormone E2 and P4 levels.. MATERIAL AND METHODS Animals. Fifteen intact female guinea pigs (Cavia aperea f. porcellus) were obtained from an accredited laboratory breeding facility (Velaz, Prague, Czech Republic). They were aged from 3.5–4 months old and weighed 320–400 g. In addition to a standard clinical examination, haematological and plasma biochemistry analyses were performed. No abnormalities were found and the animals were deemed healthy (Quesenberry et al. 2012). The guinea pigs were kept under controlled conditions, i.e.: (1) twelve hours of daylight followed by twelve hours of dark; (2) environmental temperatures between 20–23 °C; and (3) air humidity 41–51%. All animals were fed with a commercial pellet chow (Biokron, Blucina, Czech Republic) and hay. The animals were housed and handled in accordance with the Branch Commission for Animal Welfare of the Ministry of Agriculture of Czech Republic 156. (accreditation number 50/2010). Guinea pigs were observed daily for signs of sexual behaviour. Vaginal membrane opening was detected by daily visual inspection of the vagina. Day zero was determined as the day when the guinea pig vagina opened completely (absence of vaginal membrane). End of oestrus was determined by reformation of the vaginal membrane. The subcutaneous implants of deslorelin acetate (Suprelorin 4.7 mg, Virbac, France) were administered at the beginning of the third oestrous cycle, when the vagina was closed. Hormone assays. Blood samples were collected for plasma E2 and P4 determination from day zero and at three-days intervals during the two oestrus cycles and two subsequent cycles after the deslorelin implant insertion, i.e. a total of 66 days. Additional samples were then collected at monthly intervals for up to twelve months after the experiment began. In total, 480 blood samples were collected. Blood for plasma E 2 and P 4 determination was drawn from the vena cava cranialis under general anaesthesia with isoflurane and collected into heparin anticoagulant agent (Jekl et al. 2005). Fresh blood was immediately separated by centrifugation at 5000 g for 8 min. Plasma E2 and P4 concentrations were determined using a chemiluminescent immunoassay method (Immulite 1000, Siemens, USA). The feasibility of using commercial kits prepared for human plasma E2 and P4 determination in guinea pigs has previously been validated by others (Rodriguez et al. 2003a; Rodriguez et al. 2003b). The maximal interassay coefficient of variation for P4 was 9.8% and for E2 it was 7.5%. Data analyses. Descriptive statistics were expressed as mean values, standard deviations (SD) and range. Statistical analysis was performed with MS-Excel ® (Microsoft Corp., Inc., USA) and MedCalc Version 13 (MedCalc Software, Ostend, Belgium). Based on testing for normality (Kolmogorov-Smirnov test), parametric Repeated Measures ANOVA with Bonferroni correction was used for the comparison of P4 concentrations within the oestrous cycle. Differences in P4 concentrations before and after deslorelin administration in particular animals were compared with paired two-sample t-tests. The same principles were applied to E 2 concentrations. Differences with a value of P < 0.05 were considered statistically significant..

(3) Veterinarni Medicina, 60, 2015 (3): 155–160. Original Paper. doi: 10.17221/8062-VETMED 6.0. 400 Estradiole (pg/ml). Progesterone (ng/ml). 5.0 4.0 3.0 2.0 1.0 0.0. 0. 3. 6. 9. 12. 15. 18. 21. 24. 27. 30. 300 200 100 0. 33. 0. 3. 6. 9. Number of days. 12 15 18 21 Number of days. 24. 27. 30. Figure 1. Plasma progesterone (P4) levels (mean ± SD ng/ml) in 15 female guinea pigs during two physiological oestrous cycles; Day 0 = first day of the first oestrous cycle. Figure 2. Plasma oestradiol (E2) levels (mean ± SD pg/ml) in 15 female guinea pigs during two physiological oestrous cycles; Day 0 = first day of the first oestrous cycle. RESULTS. trous cycle. Plasma E2 concentrations did not show any significant cyclic fluctuations (Figure 2) during the oestrous cycle, with values ranging from 19.9 pg/ml to 119.3 pg/ml, regardless of the phase of oestrous cycle. The mean plasma E2 concentration was 55.3 ± 18.03 pg/ml.. Two initial oestrous cycles before deslorelin acetate implant administration The mean length of oestrous cycle was 17.1 ± 2.07 days (range 14–21 days). The proestrus was characterised by increased activity of females, restlessness, swaying motion of the hindquarters and guttural sounds. Throughout this period, the vaginal membrane disappeared and the vagina remained open for two to five days (3.7 ± 1.50 days). In oestrus, females appeared motionless and relaxed when manipulated. Plasma P4 concentrations showed regular cyclic fluctuations, with the highest individual peak of P 4 of 7.0 ng/ml and lowest of 0.2 ng/ml (day zero of the first oestrous cycle and Day 32 and 33 of the beginning of the third oestrous cycle) (Figure 1). Plasma P4 concentrations between day three and nine were significantly higher (P < 0.01) than those recorded on other days of the oes-. The effect of deslorelin acetate implant administration Deslorelin implants were not associated with a complete attenuation of signs of sexual behaviour throughout the experimental period. The duration that the vagina remained open was increased and was found to be more variable after deslorelin implantation (6.7 ± 2.81; range five to 12 days) compared to the two prior untreated cycles (3.7 ± 1.50; range two to five days). Vaginas were repeatedly open and closed in an irregular pattern. The timing of vaginal opening was some600. 5. flare-up effect. Estradiole(pg/ml). Progesterone (ng/ml). 6. 4 3 2 1 0. 500 400 300 200 100. 0. 6. 12. 18. 24 30 36 90 Number of days. 150 210 300. Figure 3. The effect of deslorelin acetate (Suprelorin 4.7  mg) on plasma progesterone (P4) levels (mean ± SD ng/ml) in 15 female guinea pigs; Day 0 = deslorelin implant administration. 0. 0. 6. 12. 18. 24. 30. 36. Number of days. 90. 150 210. 300. Figure 4. The effect of deslorelin acetate (Suprelorin 4.7 mg) on plasma oestradiol (E2) levels (mean ± SD pg/ml) in 15 female guinea pigs; Day 0 = deslorelin implant administration. 157.

(4) Original Paper. Veterinarni Medicina, 60, 2015 (3): 155–160 doi: 10.17221/8062-VETMED. times longer than the period of vaginal closure. Plasma P 4 concentrations reached their maximum levels six days after implant administration (3.5 ± 1.83 ng/ml). This initial increase (Figure 3, arrow) was followed by a drop to < 1.0  ng/ml (within 15 days), and subsequently to non-detectable values (< 0.2 ng/ml) for the following twelve months (Figure 3). Plasma P 4 concentrations after the flare-up effect were significantly lower in comparison to the physiological oestrous cycle (Days 3, 6, 9) of the particular animals before deslorelin treatment (P < 0.01). No change was noticed in plasma E 2 concentrations (Figure 4). Initial “flare-up” effect (nine days after implant administration, 102.3 ± 16.48 pg/ml) was not followed by decline. Plasma E 2 levels ranged from 19.9 pg/ml to 143.8  pg/ml for the following twelve months (Figure 4).. DISCUSSION The average length of the oestrus cycle in the guinea pigs in the current study was in close agreement with that found by others, (17.5 ± 2.10 days; range 15 to 21 days) (Sisk 1976). Throughout this period, when sows manifested increased activity, restlessness and guttural sounds, vaginal membranes disappeared and the vagina remained open for two to five days (3.7 ± 1.50 days). Opening of the membrane precedes oestrus, but its timing is too variable to be used in accurately establishing the onset of oestrus (Sisk 1976). The monophasic cyclic fluctuations of P 4, coincident with the ovarian luteal phase (dioestrus, lack of sexual behaviour) found in the current study are in accordance with the data of others (Challis et al. 1971; Garris et al. 1984), whereas the E 2 levels in the current study did not show cyclic fluctuation which is in agreement with the non-cyclic fluctuation reported by Croix and Franchimont (1975). These data run counter to previous findings of Hutz et al. (1990) who describe a biphasic follicular growth associated with biphasic E2 production. The present study was designed to assess the effects of the deslorelin implant on signs associated with the oestrous cycle, plasma E 2 and P 4 . The suppression of sexual behaviour and permanent presence of a vaginal membrane due to the deslorelin implant was expected. However, we observed that sows exhibited moderate signs of proestrus 158. throughout the experimental period. Vaginal membranes were opened for five to 12 days (6.7 ± 2.81 days), which was much longer than in a physiological oestrous cycle. Moreover, vaginas were repeatedly open and closed in an erratic pattern. Dissolution of the vaginal membrane precedes oestrus and occurs during proestrus (Sisk 1976). It is likely that the deslorelin implant did not completely suppress sexual behaviour, thus vaginas remained open in a variable fashion. High concentrations of E2 could affect this irregular course. P 4 concentrations decreased from day fifteen in all treated females and remained low throughout the study. Instead of an expected decrease of E2 concentrations after an initial “flare-up” effect, as described in dogs and cats (Garris et al. 1984), E 2 concentrations remained very high in treated guinea pigs during the twelve months of the study. The exact reason for the high E 2 concentrations remains unclear. A possible explanation is that deslorelin acetate in guinea pigs does not diminish FSH release and therefore E 2 concentrations remain high. FSH tends to be secreted consistently and is more dependent on biosynthesis for its secretion, i.e. FSH is not as dependent as LH on GnRH secretion (Millar et al. 2004). Apart from the mammalian type GnRH (mGnRH), guinea pig also has a specific guinea pig GnRH (gpGnRH) (Grove-Strawser et al. 2002; Fujii et al. 2004). Grove-Strawser et al. (2002) found that gpGnRH is able to stimulate the release of LH; however, mGnRH still dominates with its ability to release LH from the pituitary gland. The effect of gpGnRH on the secretion of FSH has not yet been described and its role is still unclear.. CONCLUSION Deslorelin implantation was associated with altered signs of oestrus. Our data showed a marked effect on P 4 levels. Cessation of P 4 cyclical variation might be useful to prevent pregnancy in guinea pigs. However, intermittent and prolonged vaginal opening associated with deslorelin, which was observed in animals in this study, could potentially predispose them to vaginal infections. At the moment, more studies are necessary to evaluate the impact of treatment with deslorelin acetate on female guinea pigs, especially its effect on E 2 levels..

(5) Veterinarni Medicina, 60, 2015 (3): 155–160. Original Paper. doi: 10.17221/8062-VETMED. Acknowledgements The authors thank Dr. Robert Novotny Ph.D. and Dr. Alena Bartoskova Ph.D. for helpful comments and suggestions, Dr. Vaclav Ceplecha for advice on data analysis (University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Brno) and to Dr. Corinne Lendon, BSc, BVSc, PGCertL&T, PhD for comments and English correction.. REFERENCES Blatchley FR, Donovan BT, Ter Haar MB (1976): Plasma progesterone and gonadotrophin levels during the estrous cycle of the guinea pig. Biology of Reproduction 15, 29–38. Challis JRG, Heap RB, Illingworth DV (1971): Concentrations of oestrogen and progesterone in the plasma of non-pregnant, pregnant and lactating guinea pigs. Journal of Endocrinology 51, 333–345. Croix D, Franchimont P (1975): Changes in the serum levels of the gonadotrophins progesterone and estradiol during the estrous cycle of the guinea pig. Neuroendocrinology 19, 1–11. Feder HH, Resko JA, Goy RW (1968): Progesterone concentrations in the arterial plasma of guinea-pigs during the oestrous cycle. Journal of Endocrinology 40, 505–513. Fontaine E, Mir F, Vannier F, Gerardin A, Albouy M, Navarro C, Fontbonne A (2011): Induction of fertile oestrous in the bitch using Deslorelin, a GnRH agonist. Theriogenology 76, 1–6. Fujii Y, Enomoto M, Ikemoto T, Endo D, Okubo K, Aida K, Park MK (2004): Molecular cloning and characterization of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor in the guinea pig, Cavia porcellus. General and Comparative Endocrinology 136, 208–216. Garris DR, Foreman D (1984): Follicular growth and atresia during the last half of the luteal phase of the Guinea Pig estrous cycle relation to serum progesterone and estradiol levels and utero ovarian blood flow. Endocrinology 115, 73–77. Gobello C (2007): New GnRH in canine reproduction. Animal Reproduction Science 100, 1–13. Grove-Strawser D, Sower SA, Ronsheim PM, Connolly JB, Bourn CG, Rubin BS (2002): Guinea pig GnRH: localization and physiological activity reveal that it, not mammalian GnRH, is the major neuroendocrine form in guinea pigs. Endocrinology 143, 1602–1612. Hutz RJ, Bejvan SM, Durning M, Dierschke DJ, Fischer CL, Zachow RJ (1990): Changes in follicular populations, in. serum estrogen and progesteron, and in ovarian steroid secretion in vitro during the guinea pig estrous cycle. Biology of Reproduction 42, 266–272. Jekl V, Hauptman K, Jeklova E, Knotek Z (2005): Blood sampling from the cranial vena cava in the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus). Laboratory Animals 39, 236–239. Junaidi A, Williamson PE, Cummins JM, Martin GB, Blackberry MA, Trigg TE (2003): Use of a new drug delivery formulation of the gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogue deslorelin for reversible long-term contraception in male dogs. Reproduction Fertility and Development 15, 317–322. McRae GI, Roberts BB, Worden AC, Bajka A, Vickery BH (1985): Long term reversible suppression of oestrus in bitches with nafarelin acetate, a potent LHRH agonist. Journal of Reproduction and Fertility 74, 389–397. Millar RP, Zhi-Liang L, Pawson AJ, Flanagan CA, Morgan K, Maudsley SR (2004): Gonadotropin – releasing hormone receptors. Endocrine Review 25, 235–275. Munson L, Bauman JE, Asa CS, Jochle W, Trigg TE (2001): Efficacy of the GnRH analogue deslorelin for suppression of oestrous cycle in cats. Journal of Reproduction and Fertility 57, 269–273. Novotny R, Cizek P, Vitasek R, Bartoskova A, Prinosilova P, Janosovska M. (2012): Reversible suppression of sexual activity in tomcats with deslorelin implant. Theriogenology 78, 848–857. Quesenberry KE, Donnelly TM, Mans, CH (2012): 22. Biology, husbandry, and clinical techniques of guinea pigs and chinchillas. In: Quesenberry KE, Carpenter JW (eds.): Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents. Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 3rd ed. Elsevier, St. Louis. 279–292. Rodriguez HA, Ortega, HH, Ramos, JG, Munozde-Torro M, Luque EH (2003a): Guinea-pig interpubic joint (symphysis pubica) relaxation at parturition: Underlying cellular processes that resemble an inflammatory response. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 113, 1–9. Rodriguez HA, Kass L, Varayoud J, Ramos JG, Ortega HH, Durando M, Munozde-Torro M, Lugue EH (2003b): Collagen remodelling in the guinea-pig uterine cervix at term in associated with a decrease in progesterone receptor expression. Molecular Human Reproduction 12, 807–813. Romagnoli S, Geretto N, Stelletta C, Milani C, Sontas BH, Gelli D (2009): Prolonged suppression of reproductive activity in male cats with a 4.7 mg implant of deslorelin. Reproduction in Domestic Animals 44, 36–39. Schoemaker NJ, van Deijk R, Muijlaert B, Kik MJ, Kuijten AM, de Jong FH, Trigg TE, Kruitwagen CL, Mol JA (2008): Use of a gonadotropin releasing hormone agonist implant as an alternative for surgical castration in male ferrets (Mustela putorius furo). Theriogenology 70, 161–167.. 159.

(6) Original Paper. Veterinarni Medicina, 60, 2015 (3): 155–160 doi: 10.17221/8062-VETMED. Sisk DB (1976): 7.4. Physiology. In: Wagner JE, Manning P (eds.): The Biology of the Guinea Pig. Academic Press, New York. 79–98. Stockard CR, Papanicolau GN (1917): The existence of a typical oestrous cycle in the guinea-pig with a study of its histological and physiological changes. American Journal of Anatomy 22, 225–283.. Westfahl PK, Vekasy MS (1988): Changes in serum and ovarian steroids during reproductive development in the female guinea pig. Biology of Reproduction 39, 1086– 1092. Received: 2014–07–14 Accepted after corrections: 2015–02–23. Corresponding Author: Silvia Kohutova, DVM, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic, Palackeho 1/3, 612 42 Brno, Czech Republic E-mail: 160.


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