Photoperiodically driven changes in Fos expression within the basal tuberal hypothalamus and median eminence of Japanese quail

S L Meddle, B K Follett

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The rapid photoperiodic response in Japanese quail is so precise that it allows neural analyses of how photoperiodic information is transduced into an endocrine response. After transfer from short [SD; 6L:18D (6:18 hr light/dark cycle)] to long (LD; 20L:4D) days, luteinizing hormone (LH) first rises 20 hr after dawn. Using Fos immunocytochemistry, we examined the basal tuberal hypothalamus (BtH) to determine the relationship between brain cell activation and the first endocrine changes. Two separate cell populations within the BtH expressed Fos-like immunoreactivity (FLI) by hour 18 of the first LD. Importantly, this activation occurred before the LH rise. Median eminence activation appeared within glial cells, whereas activated infundibular nucleus cells were neuronal, providing support to the view that gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) release can be controlled at the terminals by glia. The FLI induction parallels LH changes, suggesting that gene expression may be involved in events preceding photostimulation and is the earliest photoperiodically stimulated physiological change yet reported. Additional experiments provided further support for this hypothesis. First, photoperiodically induced activation is not a result peculiar to castrates because intact birds displayed similar results. Second, the critical length of 14 hr of light had to be exceeded to cause both BtH activation and a LH rise 30 hr from dawn. Finally, valuable evidence of the response specificity was provided by using a unique property of the quail photoperiodic clock in which exposure to 10L:26D, but not 10L:14D, causes photoinduction. The 36 hr paradigm increased both plasma LH and BtH activation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8909-18
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 1997


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