Prenatal programming of neuroendocrine reproductive function

Evans, N. P. , Bellingham, M. and Robinson, J. E. (2016) Prenatal programming of neuroendocrine reproductive function. Theriogenology, 86(1), pp. 340-348. (doi:10.1016/j.theriogenology.2016.04.047) (PMID:27142489)

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Abstract

It is now well recognized that the gestational environment can have long-lasting effects not only on the life span and health span of an individual but also, through potential epigenetic changes, on future generations. This article reviews the “prenatal programming” of the neuroendocrine systems that regulate reproduction, with a specific focus on the lessons learned using ovine models. The review examines the critical roles played by steroids in normal reproductive development before considering the effects of prenatal exposure to exogenous steroid hormones including androgens and estrogens, the effects of maternal nutrition and stress during gestation, and the effects of exogenous chemicals such as alcohol and environment chemicals. In so doing, it becomes evident that, to maximize fitness, the regulation of reproduction has evolved to be responsive to many different internal and external cues and that the GnRH neurosecretory system expresses a degree of plasticity throughout life. During fetal life, however, the system is particularly sensitive to change and at this time, the GnRH neurosecretory system can be “shaped” both to achieve normal sexually differentiated function but also in ways that may adversely affect or even prevent “normal function”. The exact mechanisms through which these programmed changes are brought about remain largely uncharacterized but are likely to differ depending on the factor, the timing of exposure to that factor, and the species. It would appear, however, that some afferent systems to the GnRH neurons such as kisspeptin, may be critical in this regard as it would appear to be sensitive to a wide variety of factors that can program reproductive function. Finally, it has been noted that the prenatal programming of neuroendocrine reproductive function can be associated with epigenetic changes, which would suggest that in addition to direct effects on the exposed offspring, prenatal programming could have transgenerational effects on reproductive potential.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Robinson, Dr Jane and Bellingham, Dr Michelle and Evans, Professor Neil
Authors: Evans, N. P., Bellingham, M., and Robinson, J. E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Theriogenology
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0093-691X
ISSN (Online):1879-3231
Published Online:21 April 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in Theriogenology 86(1):340-346
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
404241Prenatal programming of the reproductive axis - the role of somatostatinJane RobinsonBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BB/D002214/1RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED
536311Effects of GnRH blockade on neurocognitive and physiological endpoints.Neil EvansBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BB/K002821/1RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED
419421Effects of in-utero exposure to environmental chemicals via maternal pasture ingestion on fetal ovine reproductive developmentNeil EvansWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)080388/Z/06/ZRI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED
419423Effects of in-utero exposure to environmental chemicals via maternal pasture ingestion on fetal ovine reproductive developmentNeil EvansWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)080388/Z/06/ZRI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED