Relationship between urinary zearalenone concentration and embryo production in superovulated cattle
This field study aimed to investigate the relationships between the urinary zearalenone (ZEN) concentration, which reflects dietary ZEN intake, and the numbers of total and transferable embryos in superovulated cattle. A total of 38 cows (Japanese Black, n=16; Holstein, n=22) were superovulated for commercial embryo production. Urine samples were collected from all cows at the time of embryo flushing and the urinary ZEN concentration was measured. The ZEN concentration was corrected for the creatinine (Crea) concentration as follows: ZEN (pg/mL)/Crea (mg/dL); the corrected ZEN concentration was expressed in pg/mg Crea. The cows were divided into two groups according to whether the urinary ZEN level was less than (group 1) or more than (group 2) the mean value for each breed (Japanese Black: 97.4 pg/mg Crea; range 44.5–91.3 pg/mg Crea; Holstein: 155.5 pg/mg Crea; range 32.7–146.9 pg/mg Crea). The embryo flushing results were compared between the two groups within each breed. Overall, the total number of embryos collected and the number of transferable embryos did not differ significantly between the groups. These results suggest that natural ZEN contamination resulting in urine levels below the threshold value (i.e. below the maximal permissible urinary ZEN concentration) does not affect embryo production in Japanese Black and Holstein cows undergoing superovulation.