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Regulation of Luteal Function and Corpus Luteum Regression in Cows: Hormonal Control, Immune Mechanisms and Intercellular Communication


  • Conflict of interest: All authors declare no conflict of interests.

Author’s address (for correspondence): DJ Skarzynski, Department of Reproductive Immunology, Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of PAS, 10-747 Olsztyn, Poland. E-mail:


The main function of the corpus luteum (CL) is production of progesterone (P4). Adequate luteal function to secrete P4 is crucial for determining the physiological duration of the oestrous cycle and for achieving a successful pregnancy. The bovine CL grows very fast and regresses within a few days at luteolysis. Mechanisms controlling development and secretory function of the bovine CL may involve many factors that are produced both within and outside the CL. Some of these regulators seem to be prostaglandins (PGs), oxytocin, growth and adrenergic factors. Moreover, there is evidence that P4 acts within the CL as an autocrine or paracrine regulator. Each of these factors may act on the CL independently or may modify the actions of others. Although uterine PGF is known to be a principal luteolytic factor, its direct action on the CL is mediated by local factors: cytokines, endothelin-1, nitric oxide. The changes in ovarian blood flow have also been suggested to have some role in regulation of CL development, maintenance and regression.