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Use of Probiotics in Intravaginal Sponges in Sheep: A Pilot Study

Research Group Microbiological Agents Associated with Animal Reproduction (PROVAGINBIO), Department of Animal Production and Health, Veterinary Public Health and Food Science and Technology (PASAPTA) Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Cardenal Herrera-CEU, CEU Universities, 46113 Valencia, Spain
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Animals 2020, 10(4), 719; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10040719
Received: 30 March 2020 / Revised: 16 April 2020 / Accepted: 17 April 2020 / Published: 20 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technology in Animals Reproduction)
The use of intravaginal devices may generate retention of vaginal secretions and abnormal discharges at device withdrawal, which may create changes in the normal vaginal bacterial microbiota. These changes in vaginal microbiota could allow the growth of opportunistic pathogenic bacteria which can require antibiotic treatment. The addition of antibiotics on sponges poses a risk of milk contamination. In dairy cows, it has been observed that the use of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) confers a health benefit to the reproductive tract against bacterial infections. However, LAB use in intravaginal sponges in sheep has not been reported. The aims of this study were to describe the dynamics of the ewes’s vaginal cultivable microbiota during a classic long-term estrous synchronization protocol and to develop a model of probiotic infusion in vaginal sponges in order to study their influence in ewe’s vaginal microbiota, general health status, fertility and prolificity. The present results suggest that LAB infusion in the ewe’s vagina do not affect general health status and did not reduce fertility during natural mating.
Sheep estrous synchronization is mainly based on progestagen-impregnated sponges which could cause vaginitis. Several species of Lactobacillus used as probiotics are commonly used in the treatment or prevention of urogenital infections in humans. However, no studies have been performed to analyze the potential use of probiotics to prevent urogenital infections in sheep. A randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted with 21 one-year-old ewes to develop a model of probiotic infusion in vaginal sponges in order to study their influence in ewe’s vaginal microbiota, general health status, fertility and prolificity. Synchronization of estrus was based on intravaginal sponges for 14 days. Bacterial communities (Enterobacteriaceae and lactic acid bacteria) were highly fluctuating over time and between animals. The safety of probiotic infusion (mix of Lactobacillus spp. 60% L. crispatus, 20% L. brevis and 20% L. gasseri) in the vagina of healthy ewes was firstly confirmed. Neutrophils were observed in 80% (8/10) of the control ewes compared to 36% (4/11) of the ewes in the probiotic group 2 days after sponge removal (p = 0.056). Fertility in the control and probiotic groups was 60% (6/10) and 91% (10/11), respectively p = 0.097. These results suggest that Lactobacillus spp. infusion in the ewe’s vagina does not affect general health status or fertility. View Full-Text
Keywords: lactic acid bacteria; Lactobacillus; dysbiosis; alternative to antibiotics; vaginitis; estrus synchronization lactic acid bacteria; Lactobacillus; dysbiosis; alternative to antibiotics; vaginitis; estrus synchronization
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Quereda, J.J.; García-Roselló, E.; Barba, M.; Mocé, M.L.; Gomis, J.; Jiménez-Trigos, E.; Bataller, E.; Martínez-Boví, R.; García-Muñoz, Á.; Gómez-Martín, Á. Use of Probiotics in Intravaginal Sponges in Sheep: A Pilot Study. Animals 2020, 10, 719.

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