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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e57972. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057972. Epub 2013 Feb 28.

Kisspeptin signaling is required for the luteinizing hormone response in anestrous ewes following the introduction of males.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Abstract

The introduction of a novel male stimulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis of female sheep during seasonal anestrus, leading to the resumption of follicle maturation and ovulation. How this pheromone cue activates pulsatile secretion of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH)/luteinizing hormone (LH) is unknown. We hypothesised that pheromones activate kisspeptin neurons, the product of which is critical for the stimulation of GnRH neurons and fertility. During the non-breeding season, female sheep were exposed to novel males and blood samples collected for analysis of plasma LH profiles. Females without exposure to males served as controls. In addition, one hour before male exposure, a kisspeptin antagonist (P-271) or vehicle was infused into the lateral ventricle and continued for the entire period of male exposure. Introduction of a male led to elevated mean LH levels, due to increased LH pulse amplitude and pulse frequency in females, when compared to females not exposed to a male. Infusion of P-271 abolished this effect of male exposure. Brains were collected after the male effect stimulus and we observed an increase in the percentage of kisspeptin neurons co-expressing Fos, by immunohistochemistry. In addition, the per-cell expression of Kiss1 mRNA was increased in the rostral and mid (but not the caudal) arcuate nucleus (ARC) after male exposure in both aCSF and P-271 treated ewes, but the per-cell content of neurokinin B mRNA was decreased. There was also a generalized increase in Fos positive cells in the rostral and mid ARC as well as the ventromedial hypothalamus of females exposed to males. We conclude that introduction of male sheep to seasonally anestrous female sheep activates kisspeptin neurons and other cells in the hypothalamus, leading to increased GnRH/LH secretion.

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