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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2000 Jan;117(1):8-19.

Changes in brain gonadotropin-releasing hormone- and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-like immunoreactivity accompanying reestablishment of photosensitivity in male dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis).

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Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775, USA.


In seasonally breeding, photoperiodic birds, the development of photorefractoriness is associated with decreased brain expression of gonadotropin-releasing hormone-like immunoreactivity (GnRH-li ir) and increased expression of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-like immunoreactivity (VIP-li ir). Dissipation of photorefractoriness and reestablishment of photosensitivity are associated with increased GnRH-li ir brain production, but concurrent changes in VIP-li ir expression have not been investigated. To address this question, we compared the expression of VIP-li ir in the infundibulum (INF) of adult male dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis) that were made photorefractory (PR) by prolonged exposure to long days with that of birds that were not photostimulated (PS), but had regained photosensitivity by exposure to short days for 5 (short-term-PS, ST-PS) or 13 (long-term-PS, LT-PS) consecutive months. Photosensitive males had smaller INF VIP-li ir cell bodies than PR males, but the numbers of INF VIP-li ir cells were independent of photoperiodic condition. Changes in infundibular VIP-li ir were correlated with changes in preoptic area (POA) GnRH-li expression. Specifically, photosensitive males had more and larger POA GnRH-li ir cells and more GnRH-li ir fibers in this region than PR males. Further, LT-PS males had more GnRH-li ir POA fibers and larger testes than ST-PS juncos. Thus, induction of photorefractoriness is associated with increased VIP and decreased GnRH brain expression whereas dissipation of photorefractoriness concurs with decreased VIP and increased GnRH brain expression. These results suggest a physiological role for VIP in the control of changes in GnRH expression as a function of the photosensitive condition.

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