Rapid effects of social interactions on transient changes in hormonal levels are known in a wide variety of vertebrate taxa, ranging from fish to humans. Although these responses are mediated by the brain, neurochemical pathways that translate social signals into reproductive physiological changes are unclear. In this study, we analyzed how a female presence modifies synthesis and/or release of various neurochemicals, such as monoamines and neuropeptides, in the brain and downstream reproductive hormones in sexually active male Japanese quail. By viewing a female bird, sexually active males rapidly increased norepinephrine (NE) release in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus, in which gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH) neuronal cell bodies exist, increased GnIH precursor mRNA expression in the PVN, and decreased luteinizing hormone (LH) concentration in the plasma. GnIH is a hypothalamic neuropeptide that inhibits gonadotropin secretion from the pituitary. It was further shown that GnIH can rapidly suppress LH release after intravenous administration in this study. Centrally administered NE decreased plasma LH concentration in vivo. It was also shown that NE stimulated the release of GnIH from diencephalic tissue blocks in vitro. Fluorescence double-label immunohistochemistry indicated that GnIH neurons received noradrenergic innervations, and immunohistochemistry combined with in situ hybridization have further shown that GnIH neurons expressed α2A-adrenergic receptor mRNA. These results indicate that a female presence increases NE release in the PVN and stimulates GnIH release, resulting in the suppression of LH release in sexually active male quail.
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