Leptin Is a Metabolic Signal for GnRH-LH/FSH Axis in Feed-restricted Ewes

  • Towhidi, A. (Department of Animal Science, University of Tehran) ;
  • Khazali, H. (Department of Biology, Faculty of Basic Science, University of Shaheid Beheshti) ;
  • Zhandi, M. (Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Tarbiat Modares)
  • Received : 2006.07.02
  • Accepted : 2007.02.10
  • Published : 2007.07.01


Two experiments were conducted to determine whether leptin is a metabolic signal for gonadotropin secretion in ewes. In the first experiment, twenty-eight cyclic Chal ewes were assigned randomly to an energy restricted, no leptin group (ERNL) (60% of maintenance; n = 14) and an energy normal, no leptin group (ENNL) (100% of maintenance; n = 14) for 71 days (6 estrous cycles). Estrus was synchronized with seven consecutive injections of $PGF_{2{\alpha}}$ Biweekly, body weight (BW) and body condition score (BCS) were determined and blood samples were collected to measure plasma leptin concentration. Blood samples were also taken to determine plasma progesterone concentration twice weekly. After each PG injection from the second injection to the end of experiment, four ewes were selected and blood samples were collected at 20 minutes and at hourly intervals for 3 h to detect plasma LH and FSH concentration. In the second experiment, after the ceasing of the estrous cycle caused by energy restriction, six acyclic ewes were selected and randomly allotted to two groups (n = 3) and received the following treatment for four days. Ewes in an energy restricted, leptin group (ERL) were fed with a ration which provided 60% of maintenance energy requirements and intravenously injected with $4{\mu}g$ leptin/kg BW daily. Ewes in an energy excess, no leptin group (EENL) were fed with a ration that provided 180% (120%+60%) of maintenance energy requirements and intravenously injected with 1 ml saline daily. In both groups, blood samples were collected at 20 minutes and at hourly intervals for 3 h before feeding on d 0 and d 5, and for 3 h before and after injections as above on d 2 and d 4 to detect plasma LH and FSH concentration. In the first experiment, BW and BCS from the $2^{nd}$ estrous cycle, and leptin from the $3^{rd}$ estrous cycle to the end of the experiment significantly (p<0.05) decreased. In ERNL ewes, mean plasma concentrations of FSH significantly (p<0.01) decreased from the $4^{th}$ estrous cycle to d 71 and LH pulsatile secretion was suppressed on d 71, so that, mean plasma concentrations of LH (p<0.05), LH pulse frequency (p<0.01) and LH pulse amplitude (p<0.05) significantly decreased. In the second experiment, injection of leptin significantly increased mean circulating concentrations of LH (p<0.05), LH pulse frequency (p<0.01), LH pulse amplitude (p<0.05) and mean circulating concentrations of FSH (p<0.01) and leptin (p<0.01). High energy intake significantly (p<0.05) stimulated pulsatile secretion of LH and leptin secretion (p<0.01), but non-significantly increased plasma FSH concentration. The results of this study indicate that leptin is a metabolic signal for the GnRH-LH/FSH axis in feed-restricted fat-tailed ewes.


Leptin;Gonadotropin;Ewe;Metabolic Signal


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