Interface between metabolic balance and reproduction in ruminants: focus on the hypothalamus and pituitary

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This article is part of a Special Issue Energy Balance . The interface between metabolic regulators and the reproductive system is reviewed with special reference to the sheep. Even though sheep are ruminants with particular metabolic characteristics, there is a broad consensus across species in the way that the reproductive system is influenced by metabolic state. An update on the neuroendocrinology of reproduction indicates the need to account for the way that kisspeptin provides major drive to gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons and also mediates the feedback effects of gonadal steroids. The way that kisspeptin function is influenced by appetite regulating peptides (ARP) is considered. Another newly recognised factor is gonadotropin inhibitory hormone (GnIH), which has a dual function in that it suppresses reproductive function whilst also acting as an orexigen. Our understanding of the regulation of food intake and energy expenditure has expanded exponentially in the last 3 decades and historical perspective is provided. The function of the regulatory factors and the hypothalamic cellular systems involved is reviewed with special reference to the sheep. Less is known of these systems in the cow, especially the dairy cow, in which a major fertility issue has emerged in parallel with selection for increased milk production. Other endocrine systems - the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, the growth hormone (GH) axis and the thyroid hormones - are influenced by metabolic state and are relevant to the interface between metabolic function and reproduction. Special consideration is given to issues such as season and lactation, where the relationship between metabolic hormones and reproductive function is altered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15 - 40
Number of pages26
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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