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J Anim Sci Biotechnol. 2013 Jun 26;4(1):24. doi: 10.1186/2049-1891-4-24. eCollection 2013.

Sexual maturation in hens is not associated with increases in serum leptin and the expression of leptin receptor mRNA in hypothalamus.

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  • 1Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology & Biochemistry, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, P. R. China.
  • 2Animal Science College, Anhui Science and Technology University, Fengyang 233100, P. R. China.



In mammals, leptin is an attractive candidate for mediating the metabolic signal and the reproductive function via the specific receptor in hypothalamus. However, till now, the role of leptin on reproduction in birds is less well established. This experiment was conducted to elucidate the role of leptin on the onset of reproduction in bird, as a first step, to detect the changes of peripheral leptin and leptin receptor mRNA expression in hypothalamus between mature and immature hens at the same age. 120 ISA brown pullets at D60 were allocated randomly into two groups, long light (LL) group being raised under artificial light regimes with incrementally increased light phase (from 8 L:16D to 14 L:12D) and short light (SL) group raised on consistent light (8 L:16D) for 12 wk.


The results showed that pullets in LL group reached sexual maturation 15 d earlier than those in SL group. Serum E2 showed a significant increase with age, but no difference was observed between two groups. Serum leptin concentration decreased significantly from D112 to D136 in LL, and was markedly higher in LL group than that in SL at D112, while there was no significant difference between two groups at D136. Leptin receptor and GnRH-I mRNA expression in hypothalamus were significantly increased with age, yet there was no significant difference between SL and LL chickens at the same age. The expression of FSH-β and LH-β mRNA in pituitary was increased with age but did not show significant difference between LL and SL group. GnRH-I mRNA expression was very rich in pineal gland, and decreased from D112 to D136 in LL but not in SL group, and there was no difference between two groups at the same age.


These results indicate that the earlier sexual maturation in hens induced by long-light regime is not accompanied with an increase in serum leptin or leptin receptor gene expression in hypothalamus, or genes expression in HPG axis.


Gonadatrophin Releasing hormone (GnRH); Hens; Hypothalamus; Leptin; Sexual maturation

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