In birds, annual changes in gonadal weight are much more pronounced in the male than in the female. To analyze the mechanism inducing such a sex difference in the gonadal responsiveness to natural environmental conditions, we measured annual changes in the binding of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to the gonads and the plasma gonadotropin concentration in adult Indian weaver birds inhabiting the subtropical zone. The binding of FSH was highly specific for mammalian FSHs and located primarily in the gonad. The testicular weight and FSH binding showed marked changes during the annual breeding cycle. The testicular weight was maximal in the breeding phase (June, 1987) and minimal in the nonbreeding phase (December, 1987). FSH binding per unit testicular weight was-greatest in the nonbreeding phase, while the total FSH binding per two testes was maximal in the breeding phase and minimal in the regressive phase (October, 1987). In contrast, the changes in the ovarian weight and FSH binding to the ovary were less pronounced than those in the testis. Although FSH binding per unit ovarian weight showed a peak in the nonbreeding phase; there was no significant change in the total FSH binding per ovary during the year, indicating the presence of a clear sex difference in the total FSH binding. Scatchard plot analyses of the binding suggested that the dissociation constant (Kd) ranged from 0.35 to 1.53 nM regardless of sex and season and that the changes in FSH binding were due to changes in the number of binding sites. Plasma FSH and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels markedly changed during the year in both sexes. Both FSH and LH levels were maximal in the breeding phase and minimal in the nonbreeding phase regardless of sex, although. the rate of change in either hormone tended to be greater in the male than in the female.
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