In Vitro Effect of the Reproductive Hormones on the Oxidative Burst Activity of Polymorphonuclear Leucocytes from Cows: A Flow Cytometric Study


Author’s address (for Correspondence): A Chaveiro, Animal Reproduction, Department of Agrarian Sciences, University of the Azores, Angra do Heroísmo, Portugal. E-mail:


In this study, the effect of reproductive hormones and substances with hormonal activity on the oxidative burst activity of blood polymorphonuclear leucocytes (PMN) high yielding dairy cows was evaluated. Different concentrations of: progesterone, oestradiol 17β, FSH, LH, GnRH, cortisol and PGF2α were incubated in vitro for 4 h with PMN of seven high milk yielding cows, during the period of anoestrous postpartum. Controls were run in parallel in which each hormone was replaced by its solvent. After incubation with hormones the competence of PMN to generate H2O2 was monitored by flow cytometry. A down-regulation on the oxidative burst activity of PMA-stimulated PMN was observed when cells were incubated with progesterone. Significant (p ≤ 0.001) differences between control and progesterone incubated cells were observed from 6.56 μg/ml. The same predisposition was observed when PMNs were incubated with cortisol. Besides for all concentrations employed, a decrease in the burst activity was observed, only beyond 0.19 mg/ml, statistical differences between the results obtained by the control and the cortisol incubated cells were obtained. Concerning oestradiol 17β, an increase on H2O2-production was observed when PMN were incubated with 15 pg/ml and 45 pg/ml of this steroid (p ≤ 0.05), followed by a depression of the cell’s activity when unphysiological concentrations were employed. Significant (p ≤ 0.05) differences between the obtained with the control and oestradiol 17β incubated cells were observed only in the highest concentration of oestradiol. No statistical differences were observed in the metabolic burst activity of PMN incubated with FSH, GnRH and LH when compared with the results obtained by the control.