The oviducts of 4 cows were cannulated and oviduct fluid was collected daily from the exteriorized cannulas for a total of 5 oestrous cycles. Daily serum samples were assayed for oestradiol-17 beta and progesterone to monitor the oestrous cycle. Data for each cycle were compared for oviduct fluid collected during the non-luteal phase (serum progesterone less than or equal to 1.5 ng/ml) and the luteal phase (serum progesterone greater than 1.5 ng/ml). During the non-luteal phase oviduct fluid volume was higher and the osmolality was lower than during the luteal phase. Total protein, cholesterol and phospholipid secreted daily was greater during the non-luteal phase. Cholesterol and protein concentrations were generally lower during the non-luteal phase, but phospholipid concentrations were generally higher. About 40% of the phospholipid in oviduct fluid was phosphatidylcholine and lysophosphatidylcholine, while phosphatidylinositol and lysophosphatidylinositol accounted for 20%. The ratio of 1-acyl-phospholipid to diacylphospholipid increased during the non-luteal phase. An increased cholesterol to phospholipid ratio, and a decreased cholesterol to protein ratio in oviduct fluid also were associated with the non-luteal phase. Changes in the lipid composition of oviduct fluid during the oestrous cycle may play a role in the preparation of gametes for fertilization.
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