Effects of genetic selection for early puberty on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis in gilts
Harlow, K. L., Renwick, A., Shuping, S., Sommer, J., Knauer, M., & Nestor, C. (2020, November). JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE, Vol. 98, pp. 212–212.
Abstract Puberty onset in gilts is an awakening of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis that is the result of reduced estradiol-negative feedback at the level of the hypothalamus which yields elevated gonadotropin secretion from the anterior pituitary. Given the importance of hypothalamic kisspeptin and neurokinin B (NKB) signaling for the onset of puberty in other species, the objective of this study was to determine if gilts selected for early pubertal onset (SELECT) would display measurable differences within the hypothalamus (i.e. increased expression of kisspeptin and NKB) and within the ovary (i.e. increased ovarian mass) compared to age-matched and weight-matched gilts (CONTROL) that achieve puberty 20 days later than SELECT gilts. Gilts were sacrificed at three timepoints: Timepoint A, both groups were determined to be prepubertal (n=6/group), Timepoint B, SELECT gilts were determined to be pubertal and CONTROL gilts were determined to be prepubertal (n=6/group), and Timepoint C, both groups were determined to be pubertal (n=6/group). All animals were euthanized, heads were perfused with 8 L of 4% paraformaldehyde, and ovaries were harvested. Brain tissue was removed post-fixation, submerged in fixative for 24 hrs followed by 20% sucrose until sectioned for immunohistochemistry. Ovarian mass tended (p≤0.10) to be greater for SELECT gilts on the right ovary (4.34 vs. 3.67 g) and the left ovary (4.49 vs. 3.68 g) when compared to CONTROL (Timepoints A and C), and at Timepoint B right ovary mass from SELECT gilts was heavier than CONTROL gilts (p&lt; 0.05; 7.22 vs. 4.65 g). Hypothalamic immunohistochemistry for kisspeptin and NKB revealed differences in neuronal fiber density between both groups at various timepoints. Therefore, we conclude that gilts genetically selected for early puberty do so via changes within the hypothalamus that increase gonadotropin secretion and, in turn, stimulate ovarian growth to ultimately advance the timing of puberty onset.