The mechanism whereby the inherently high variation in ovary size and the total number of high-quality oocytes in ovaries (ovarian reserve) impact on ovarian function and fertility, diagnostics to measure the size of the ovarian reserve and the factors that cause variation in the ovarian reserve are unknown. Our results show that cattle can be phenotyped reliably based on the number of antral follicles growing during follicular waves (antral follicle count, AFC). Young adult cattle with a consistently low v. a high AFC have smaller gonads, a markedly diminished ovarian reserve and many other phenotypic characteristics usually associated with ovarian aging and infertility. A powerful new approach based on a single measurement of serum concentration of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMII) is described to test the longstanding hypothesis that the size of the ovarian reserve is positively associated with fertility. Also, new evidence shows that maternal environment has a critical role in regulation of the high variation in the ovarian reserve and perhaps fertility in offspring. These results support the conclusion that the inherently high variation in the ovarian reserve, potentially caused by alterations in the maternal environment, has a negative impact on ovarian function that may result in suboptimal fertility in young adult cattle, and a single AMH measurement can be used reliably in future studies to determine if fertility is suboptimal in young adult cattle with low circulating AMH concentrations and a correspondingly diminished ovarian reserve.
Does size matter in females? An overview of the impact of the high variation in the ovarian reserve on ovarian function and fertility, utility of anti-Mullerian hormone as a diagnostic marker for fertility and causes of variation in the ovarian reserve in cattle / Ireland, Jj; Smith, Gw; Scheetz, D; Jimenez Krassel, F; Folger, Jk; Ireland, Jlh; Mossa, Francesca; Lonergan, P; Evans, Aco. - In: REPRODUCTION FERTILITY AND DEVELOPMENT. - ISSN 1031-3613. - 23:1(2011), pp. 1-14.