Peripheral and central pathways linking metabolic status and reproduction in male sheep

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] Reproductive activity is affected by external factors such as photoperiod, social cues, stress and nutrition, all of which can alter the pulsatile activity of the GnRH neurons, which is the major neuroendocrine system used by the brain to control gonadal function. In the male Merino sheep, nutrition is one of the most powerful factors that affect pulsatile LH secretion, used commonly to bioassay GnRH neuronal activity. More accurately, the reproductive system responds to “metabolic status”, rather than “nutrition”, and the three factors that contribute to metabolic status are food intake, the amount of body reserves and the rate of energy expenditure ... In this thesis, I tested the general hypothesis that the metabolic hormones and hypothalamic neuropeptides that are known to control food intake also mediate the effect of metabolic status on the activity of the GnRH neurons ... In conclusion, the results from my experiments provide some insight into the mechanisms by which metabolic status affects reproductive activity in male sheep. Plasma insulin, which changes with alterations in metabolic status, appears to play a critical role in the regulation of GnRH neuronal activity. The level of leptin seems to have a permissive role only in lean animals. Orexins acting via OX2 receptors could be involved in the activation of reproductive function following an acute increase in nutrition. However, the neuropeptidergic systems can not be ruled out because they might be involved in very early steps of responses to nutrition.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2005


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