Reproductive neuropeptides: Prevalence of GnRH and KNDy neural signalling components in a model avian, gallus gallus

Nerine Joseph, Javier Tello, Gregoy Bedecarrats, Robert Millar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Diverse external and internal environmental factors are integrated in the hypothalamus to regulate the reproductive system. This is mediated through the pulsatile secretion of GnRH into the portal system to stimulate pituitary gonadotrophin secretion, which in turn regulates gonadal function. A single subpopulation of neurones termed 'KNDy neurones' located in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus co-localise kisspeptin (Kiss), neurokinin B (NKB) and dynorphin (Dyn) and are responsive to negative feedback effects of sex steroids. The co-ordinated secretion from KNDy neurones appears to modulate the pulsatile release of GnRH, acting as a proximate pacemaker. This review briefly describes the neuropeptidergic control of reproduction in the avian class, highlighting the status of reproductive neuropeptide signalling systems homologous to those found in mammalian genomes. Genes encoding the GnRH system are complete in the chicken with similar roles to the mammalian counterparts, whereas genes encoding Kiss signalling components appear missing in the avian lineage, indicating a differing set of hypothalamic signals controlling avian reproduction. Gene sequences encoding both NKB and Dyn signalling components are present in the chicken genome, but expression analysis and functional studies remain to be completed. The focus of this article is to describe the avian complement of neuropeptidergic reproductive hormones and provide insights into the putative mechanisms that regulate reproduction in birds. These postulations highlight differences in reproductive strategies of birds in terms of gonadal steroid feedback systems, integration of metabolic signals and seasonality. Also included are propositions of KNDy neuropeptide gene silencing and plasticity in utilisation of these neuropeptides during avian evolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-43
Number of pages10
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2013


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