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The Preoptic Area and the RFamide-Related Peptide Neuronal System Gate Seasonal Changes in Chemosensory Processing

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Kimberly J Jennings
  • Manon Chasles
  • Hweyryoung Cho
  • Jens Mikkelsen
  • George Bentley
  • Matthieu Keller
  • Lance J Kriegsfeld
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Males of many species rely on chemosensory information for social communication. In male Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus), as in many species, female chemosignals potently stimulate sexual behavior and a concurrent, rapid increase in circulating luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone (T). However, under winter-like, short-day (SD) photoperiods, when Syrian hamsters are reproductively quiescent, these same female chemosignals fail to elicit behavioral or hormonal responses, even after T replacement. It is currently unknown where in the brain chemosensory processing is gated in a seasonally dependent manner such that reproductive responses are only displayed during the appropriate breeding season. The goal of the present study was to determine where this gating occurred by identifying neural loci that respond differentially to female chemosignals across photoperiods, independent of circulating T concentrations. Adult male Syrian hamsters were housed under either long-day (LD) (reproductively active) or SD (reproductively inactive) photoperiods with half of the SD animals receiving T replacement. Animals were exposed to either female hamster vaginal secretions (FHVSs) diluted in mineral oil or to vehicle, and the activational state of chemosensory processing centers and elements of the neuroendocrine reproductive axis were examined. Components of the chemosensory pathway upstream of hypothalamic centers increased expression of FOS, an indirect marker of neuronal activation, similarly across photoperiods. In contrast, the preoptic area (POA) of the hypothalamus responded to FHVS only in LD animals, consistent with its role in promoting expression of male sexual behavior. Within the neuroendocrine axis, the RF-amide related peptide (RFRP), but not the kisspeptin neuronal system responded to FHVS only in LD animals. Neither response within the POA or the RFRP neuronal system was rescued by T replacement in SD animals, mirroring photoperiodic regulation of reproductive responses. Considering the POA and the RFRP neuronal system promote reproductive behavior and function in male Syrian hamsters, differential activation of these systems represents a potential means by which photoperiod limits expression of reproduction to the appropriate environmental context.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIntegrative and comparative biology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1055-1065
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

ID: 52581369