Dose-dependent effects of melengestrol acetate (MGA) on plasma levels of estradiol, progesterone and luteinizing hormone in cycling heifers and influences on oestrogen residues in edible tissues
Melengestrol acetat (MGA) is widely used as a growth promoting feed additive in cattle breeding in the USA and several other non-European countries. To explore the physiological effects of MGA four heifers were fed during 8 weeks with 0.5 mg MGA daily as registered in the USA and two heifers each received 0, 1.5 or 5 mg/day, respectively. Plasma samples were collected twice a week and concentrations of MGA, progesterone (P4) and estradiol-17β (E2-17β) were quantified. The pulsatile secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) was investigated in 6-hour profiles before and during treatment. After slaughter the reproductive organs were examined and oestrogen residues in edible tissues were measured. Four days after the beginning of MGA feeding MGA concentrations in plasma reached levels of 30 and 100–400 pg/mL depending on the dose received. Three weeks after the beginning of MGA feeding P4 plasma concentrations had dropped to base levels below 0.3 ng/mL in all three treatment groups. Mean plasma E2-17β levels increased in physiological range from 1 to 5 pg/mL during 0.5 mg MGA/day feeding with many acyclic peaks. Overdosed MGA decreased E2 levels and suppressed cyclic peaks. Number and size of ovarian follicles were not altered by any treatment. Mean LH levels and pulse frequencies increased significantly during labelled treatment (0.5 mg/day), while higher doses had reducing effects. The development of corpus luteum was suppressed. E2-17β residues in fat increased about 300% following labelled MGA treatment.