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It has been shown that zearalenone disrupts early pregnancy in swine without altering intrauterine content of estradiol 17β or progesterone, embryo migration, or estradiol-17β synthesis by blastocysts. However, serum concentrations of progesterone were reduced 2 to 3 weeks after mating in gilts that ingested zearalenone. Therefore, progesterone was administered to gilts during early pregnancy to determine whether it could counteract the detrimental actions of zearalenone on embryonic development. Thirty-two crossbred gilts (Hampshire × Chester White × Yorkshire × Duroc) were assigned randomly to a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments: zearalenone (z); zearalenone plus progesterone (zp); progesterone (p); or control (c). From postmating days 4 to 15, z- and zp-treated gilts were fed 1 mg of z/kg of body weight, and p-treated and c gilts were fed ethanol as vehicle in a cornsoybean diet. On postmating days 3 to 15, p- and zp-treated gilts were injected im with 100 mg of progesterone, and c and z-treated gilts were injected with progesterone carrier (15% ethanol, 15% benzyl alcohol, 70% propylene glycol). Blood was collected from gilts by puncture of the jugular vein daily from days 3 to 15, on alternate days from days 17 to 31, and then twice weekly until the end of the experiment. Fetal development was assessed in z- and zp-treated gilts on postmating day 47.6 ± 2.9 by cesarean section and in p-treated and c gilts at slaughter on postmating days 51.2 ± 3.2. Serum concentrations of progesterone in p-treated gilts were greater on days 7 to 8, 10 to 15, 17, and 19 than in c gilts. Serum concentrations of progesterone were greater on days 8, 10, and 12 in zp-treated than in c gilts. However, serum concentrations of progesterone were lower in zp-treated gilts than in c gilts on postmating days 19 to 31. Serum concentrations of progesterone were lower in z-treated gilts than c gilts on postmating days 15, 17, and 19. At slaughter or cesarean section, viable fetuses were not found in z-treated gilts, but 80% of the c and p-treated gilts had viable fetuses. All z-treated gilts were classified as pseudopregnant because uteri were turgid and the ovaries had functional corpora lutea. Uteri of zp-treated gilts appeared normal. Corpora lutea of pregnancy had regressed by postmating day 35 in 7 of 8 zp-treated gilts. Crown-to-rump length was similar between p-treated and c gilts (94 vs 92 mm). Fetal weight was similar between p-treated and c gilts (70 vs 62 g). These data demonstrate that 100 mg of progesterone/d failed to counteract the adverse effects of 1 mg of z/kg of body weight on early pregnancy in primiparous gilts.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research