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Neuroendocrine Regulation of Seasonal Reproduction

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Research Encyclopedia of Neuroscience
PublisherOxford University Press
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2019

Abstract

This article discusses the neuroendocrine mechanisms that control seasonal reproduction in birds and mammals. Seasonal reproduction is ubiquitous across vertebrate and invertebrate species, and its timing is extremely crucial in order to maximize offspring survival. The hypothalamus is the key brain region that integrates environmental cues. An endogenous circannual timer with oscillations that approximate one year is also localized in the hypothalamus. Successful timing of reproduction involves the combination of endogenous internal timers that are entrained by local environmental cues. Photoperiod, or the annual change in day length, is the primary cue most temperate animals use to predict future environmental conditions. Birds are able to detect light through photoreceptors located in the medio-basal hypothalamus. These photoreceptors are localized in neuroendocrine regions and regulate the key reproductive neuropeptide gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). In mammals, retinal photoreceptors transduce light information the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus, which then modulates the nocturnal duration of melatonin. Melatonin in mammals is crucial, as it regulates the neuroendocrine release of GnRH and downstream transitions across seasonal reproductive states. The chapter concludes with the conjecture that tanycyte cells lining the third ventricle (3rdV) of the hypothalamus as the critical node for the integration of internal (i.e., circannual timing) and external (e.g., photoperiod) information necessary for the regulation of seasonal reproduction.

ID: 80416152