A neuroanatomical and neuroendocrinological study into the relationship between social status and the GnRH system in cooperatively breeding female Damaraland mole-rats, Cryptomys damarensis

A. J. Molteno, I. Kalló, N. C. Bennett, J. A. King, C. W. Coen

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The gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) system in female Damaraland mole-rats, Cryptomys damarensis, has been investigated to map the distribution of GnRH-immunoreactive (GnRH-IR) structures in the brain of this species and to assess whether changes in this system may mediate the inhibitory effect of social cues on fertility. The distribution of GnRH-IR cell bodies and fibres was similar to that of other mammals, forming a loose continuum along a septo-preoptico-infundibular pathway. GnRH-IR cell bodies were more abundant in the vicinity of the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis than in the medial basal hypothalamus. GnRH-IR cells and fibres were also found in the subfornical organ. The cell bodies were typically unipolar or bipolar. No differences were found in the morphology or size of the cell bodies or in the number of cells between non-reproductive females and reproductive females living together in a colony. However, GnRH concentrations, measured in the brain by radioimmunoassay, were significantly higher in non-reproductive females than in reproductive females; this finding was complemented by the reduced immunoreactivity for GnRH in the median eminence and proximal pituitary stalk of reproductive females. In contrast, the concentrations of GnRH measured by radioimmunoassay in non-reproductive and reproductive males did not differ. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that GnRH release is inhibited in the non-reproductive females but not in the non-reproductive males of this species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-21
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Embryology
  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Cell Biology

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