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Bioscientifica Proceedings (2019) 3 RDRRDR15 | DOI: 10.1530/biosciprocs.3.015

REDR1994 Reproduction in Domestic Ruminants III Development of the Reproductive Axis (7 abstracts)

Development of the gonadotrophic and somatotrophic axes of sheep

J Polkowska

The Kielanowshi Institute of Animal Physiology and Nutrition, Polish Academy of Sciences, 05-110 Jablonna, Poland

The hypothalamo–pituitary–gonadotrophic axis develops in the sheep fetus from midgestation to late gestation. The GnRH neuronal centres seem to be fully developed in the fetus and their localization complies with the adult pattern. Pituitary gonadotrophs are responsive to exogenous GnRH and release LH and FSH in a pulsatile fashion; the highest concentrations in plasma are found during late gestation. In sheep, maturational changes of this axis continue through to the prepubertal period. The GnRH neuronal system is established at about 12 weeks of age. The pattern of LH and FSH release is characteristic for each gonadotrophin depending on age and sex. The responsiveness of the gonadotrophs to GnRH increases up to 3 weeks of age. It is concluded that the changes in morphology and physiology of the hypothalamo–pituitary–gonadotrophic axis reflect the progressive maturation of the central mechanisms involved in the control of gonadotrophin secretion throughout fetal and prepubertal growth in sheep. Development of the hypothalamo–pituitary–somatotrophic axis begins in the fetus around midgestation. The central regulation of growth hormone (GH) in the fetus probably has a dual character, although the growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) neuronal system has not yet been observed in sheep. The somatostatin neuronal system develops in diverse neuronal centres in the fetus. The somatostatin centre involved in hypophysiotrophic functions does not develop fully before birth and is established over the first 10 weeks after birth. Plasma GH concentrations are very high in the fetus and fall suddenly in the perinatal period, and after a temporary increase they decline with age. Fetal somatotrophs are highly sensitive to exogenous GHRH but their sensitivity to exogenous somatostatin is much lower in the pre- than in the postnatal period. It appears that central regulation of GH secretion is not fully established in the sheep fetus. The importance of somatostatin as a hypophysiotrophic hormone increases with age of the sheep.

© 1995 Journals of Reproduction and Fertility Ltd

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