Characterizing the relationship between gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), Kisspeptin, and RFamide related peptide 3 (RFRP-3) neurons in the equine hypothalamus across the estrous cycle and in the anovulatory seasons.

B.M. McGrath, S.T. Norman, C.A. Gaspardis, J.L. Rose, C.J. Scott

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Abstract

To understand better the role that kisspeptin plays in regulating seasonal and estrous cycle changes in the mare, this study investigated the number, location and interactions between GnRH, kisspeptin and RFRP-3 neurons in the equine hypothalamus. Hypothalami were collected from mares during the non-breeding season, vernal transition and various stages of the breeding season. Fluorescent immunohistochemistry was used to label the neuropeptides of interest. GnRH cells were observed primarily in the arcuate nucleus (ARC), while very few labeled cells were identified in the pre-optic area (POA). Kisspeptin cells were identified primarily in the ARC, with a small number of cells observed dorsal to the ARC, surrounding the third ventricle (3V). The mean number of kisspeptin cells varied between animals and typically showed no pattern associated with season or stage of estrous cycle, but a seasonal difference was identified in the ARC population. Small numbers of RFRP-3 cells were observed in the ARC, ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) and dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH). The mean number of RFRP-3 cells appeared higher in pre-ovulatory animals compared to all other stages. The percentage of GnRH cell bodies with kisspeptin appositions did not change with season or stage of estrous cycle. The percentage of kisspeptin cells receiving inputs from RFRP-3 fibers did not vary with season or stage of estrous cycle. These interactions suggest the possibility of the presence of an ultra-short loop feedback system between these three peptides. The changes in RFRP-3 neurons suggest the possibility of a role in the regulation of reproduction in the horse, but it is unlikely to be as a gonadotropin inhibitory factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-166
Number of pages10
JournalTheriogenology
Volume219
Early online dateFeb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2024

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