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Leptin: a metabolic signal affecting central regulation of reproduction in the pig

Barb, C.R., Hausman, G.J., Czaja, K.
Domestic animal endocrinology 2005 v.29 no.1 pp. 186
swine, leptin, hormonal regulation, animal reproduction, metabolism, body fat, adipose tissue, hypothalamus, pituitary gonadotropins, hormone secretion, nutritional status
The discovery of the obesity gene and its product, leptin, it is now possible to examine the relationship between body fat and the neuroendocrine axis. A minimum percentage of body fat may be linked to onset of puberty and weaning-to-estrus interval in the pig. Adipose tissue is no longer considered as only a depot to store excess energy in the form of fat. Recent findings demonstrate that numerous genes, i.e., relaxin, interleukins and other cytokines and biologically active substances such as leptin, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), IGF-II and Agouti protein are produced by porcine adipose tissue, which could have a profound effect on appetite and the reproductive axis. Hypothalamic neurons are transsynaptically connected to porcine adipose tissue and may regulate adipose tissue function. In the pig nutritional signals such as leptin are detected by the central nervous system (CNS) and translated by the neuroendocrine system into signals, which regulate appetite, hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) release and subsequent luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion. Furthermore, leptin directly affects LH secretion from the pituitary gland independent of CNS input. Changes in body weight or nutritional status are characterized by altered adipocyte function a reduction in adipose tissue leptin expression, serum leptin concentrations and a concurrent decrease in LH secretion. During pubertal development serum leptin levels, hypothalamic leptin receptor mRNA and estrogen-induced leptin gene expression in fat increased with age and adiposity in the pig and this occurred at the time of expected puberty. In the lactating sow serum and milk leptin concentrations were positively correlated with backfat thickness and level of dietary energy fed during gestation as well as feed consumption. Although, these results identify leptin as a putative signal that links metabolic status and neuroendocrine control of reproduction, other adipocyte protein products may play an important role in regulating the reproductive axis in the pig.