Assessment of uterine luminal pH in mares and the effect of dilute vinegar lavage on uterine pH and endometrial health

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Uterine luminal pH has been demonstrated to be a valid indicator of uterine health in species such as cattle and sheep. However, research regarding uterine luminal pH in equines is lacking. The objectives of this study were to assess uterine luminal pH in mares during the estrous cycle, and evaluate the effect of dilute vinegar lavage on both uterine luminal pH and endometrial health. The study was conducted using a randomized block design in which eight mares (four Thoroughbred and four Standardbred) were aged matched then randomly assigned to two groups. Endometrial biopsies were taken from each mare prior to trial commencement. The treatment group (n ¼ 4; 1 Thoroughbred, 3 Standardbreds) received a uterine lavage of one liter dilute vinegar (20 mL of vinegar in 1 L saline) every second day during each estrus period throughout the trial. Control group mares did not receive a uterine lavage. Uterine luminal pH measurements were recorded in all mares in both groups for a period of up to 10 min immediately prior to lavage (0 h), one hour and 24 h post lavage (same time points in control group mares as if they had been treated). Diestrus uterine luminal pH measurements were recorded once between days 6e10 post-ovulation. Endometrial biopsies were repeated from all mares at trial completion. Mean uterine luminal pH ranged from pH 5.3 to 7.6 and was significantly lower during diestrus compared to estrus (P < 0.001). Regression analysis indicated that this variation in pH was best explained by estrous cycle day, with uterine luminal pH increasing by a mean of 0.03 units each day (P < 0.001) from 6 to 10 days post-ovulation through to ovulation. Uterine lavage with dilute vinegar did not significantly affect uterine luminal pH (P > 0.05). A scoring system to quantify the abundance of cell types in the endometrial biopsies showed that mares in the treatment group had a significant decrease in polymorphonuclear cell abundance between pre- and post-trial biopsies (P ¼ 0.03). Mares in the treatment group also had a significant decrease in lymphocyte, plasma cell and eosinophil cell abundance (P ¼ 0.05). Although dilute vinegar lavage was not associated with a significant change in uterine luminal pH, it was associated with a significant improvement in endometrial biopsy scores. Because the control group did not receive a uterine lavage, further research is required to determine if this significant improvement results from the addition of dilute vinegar, or the uterine lavage itself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-15
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Early online date19 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

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