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Endocrinology

Social cues regulate reciprocal switching of hypothalamic Dio2/Dio3 and the transition into final follicle maturation in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris).


PMID 25490148

Abstract

With final maturation of ovarian follicles, birds are committed to a major energetic investment: egg laying. Follicles develop in a 2-step process: 1) initial development of regressed follicles stimulated by long days and 2) yolk incorporation into hierarchical follicles, ovulation, and oviposition. We know little about how females transduce environmental cues into neuroendocrine signals regulating the second step. The present study measures gene expression in tissues within the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis. Females were housed in seminatural enclosures experiencing natural changes in photoperiod and environmental cues (eg, temperature, rainfall, etc), without males or with constant access to males (January to April). By April, females with males had begun to lay eggs, whereas those without males had not. In a second study, females without males for 3.5 months were then given access to males for 7 days. Restricting male access completely inhibited final follicle maturation, whereas 7-day male access stimulated full vitellogenesis and follicle maturation. Few gene expression changes were attributable to constant male access (January to March), but naïve females given 7-day male access had increased type 2 deiodinase (DIO2) and decreased DIO3 synthesis in the hypothalamus, potentially influencing local thyroid hormone metabolism, increased expression of LH receptor and aromatase in follicles and vitellogenin in liver. Our data suggest that initial follicle development may be more heavily influenced by photoperiod, but the second step (final maturation) is sensitive to other cues such as social interactions. This is the first demonstration of a social effect on the Dio2/Dio3 system, previously thought only responsive to photoperiod cues.

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