RF-(Arg-Phe) related peptides (RFRP-1 and -3) are considered to play a role in the seasonal regulation of reproduction; however, the effect of the peptides depends on species and gender. This study aimed at comparing the RFRP system in male and female Syrian hamsters over long and short photoperiods to investigate the neuroanatomical basis of these differential effects. The neuroanatomical distribution of RFRP neurons and fibers, revealed using an antiserum recognizing RFRP-1 and -3, as well as GPR147 mRNA, are similar in male and female Syrian hamsters. RFRP neurons are mainly found in the medial hypothalamus, whereas RFRP projections and GPR147 mRNA are observed in the preoptic area, anteroventral-periventricular nucleus, suprachiasmatic nucleus, paraventricular nucleus, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, ventromedial hypothalamus, habenular nucleus, and arcuate nucleus. The number of RFRP neurons is higher in females than in males, and in both sexes, the number of RFRP neurons is reduced in short photoperiods. GPR147 mRNA levels are higher in females than in males and are downregulated in short photoperiods, particularly in females. Interestingly, the number of RFRP-positive fibers in the anteroventral-periventricular nucleus is higher only in females adjusted to a short photoperiod. Our results suggest that the RFRP system, which is strongly regulated by photoperiod in both male and female Syrian hamsters, is particularly important in females, with a distinct role in the anteroventral-periventricular nucleus, possibly in the regulation of the preovulatory luteinizing hormone surge via kisspeptin neurons. J. Comp. Neurol. 524:1825-1838, 2016.
- Dorso/ventromedial hypothalamus
- Seasonal reproduction
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