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Steroids. 2012 May;77(6):578-88. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2011.12.028. Epub 2012 Jan 31.

Age, photoperiod and estrogen dependent variations in the shell gland and the expression of AVT in the ovary of Japanese quail.


Present work was undertaken to describe (i) age dependent (prepuberal-3, 4, 5 and 6 weeks old, puberal and actively laying 8 and 12 weeks old and aged 78 weeks old) (ii) photoperiodic response dependent (photosensitive and photorefractory) and sex steroid dependent (estradiol benzoate and its antagonist tamoxifen treated) variation in the ovary and shell gland activity of Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica). Further, in view of the role of neurohypophysial peptide arginine vasotocin (AVT) in many physiological processes including age/reproduction related oviposition, expression of ir-AVT was also monitored in the ovary of quail. All the parameters associated with histodifferentiation increased rapidly during the developing stages followed by a decrease in old age, which also increased in reproductively quiescent photorefractory birds following estradiol treatment and decreased in reproductively active photosensitive quail following tamoxifen treatment. Using AVT-specific antibody, expression of immunoreactive AVT (ir-AVT) observed in the ovary of photosensitive quail was not detected in the photorefractory quail. However, administration of estrogen in the photorefractory quail stimulated the growth and activity of ovary and shell gland also resulted in the expression of ovarian ir-AVT. On the other hand, tamoxifen eliminated the localization of ir-AVT in the ovary of photosensitive quail in addition to a decrease in the shell gland protein and alkaline phosphatase activity. It is concluded that estrogen not only affects the growth and differentiation of ovary and oviduct including shell gland but also regulates the expression of ovarian AVT. It is also suggested that in addition to reported paracrine effect of AVT in the shell gland of Japanese quail for oviposition, ovarian AVT may also affect ovarian function (ovulation), and in part, this regulation is estrogen dependent.

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